Elisa Wood is a long-time energy writer whose work appears regularly in many of the industry’s top magazines and newsletters.
A correspondent for McGraw-Hill/Platts Energy for two decades, Elisa Wood also writes for AOL Energy, Bloomsbury, PennWell and Renewable Energy World magazine.
Her weekly blog is picked up by dozens of energy and environmental websites, and originates in Energy Efficiency Markets, a newsletter she co-publishes.
Elisa Wood is the author of PennWell’s US Guide to Renewable Energy and the US Guide to Combined Heat & Power and Business Insights, The Future of Home Automation.
Before beginning her freelance career, Elisa Wood served as publications director for Emerson College in Boston and worked as a staff writer for daily newspapers in Colorado and Massachusetts.
She has won awards from the New England Press Association, the Iowa Press Association, the National Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, and others.
To read her articles, see below. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elisa Wood, April 11, 2013, Renewable Energy World
Everyone wants to see inside Warren Buffett’s head. One of the world’s most successful investors, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway is a rock star among those who check the markets before their breakfast. What’s the best way to gain insight into Buffett’s thinking? Probably by watching his companies. And now, among his big insurance, chemical and utility holdings is a renewable energy company that is making some eye-catching moves.
Elisa Wood, March 21, 2013, Renewable Energy World magazine
Short of putting a windmill on top of a car – a parody vehicle that became a source of political jesting during the 2012 U.S. presidential election – electric vehicle (EV) owners have little control over the ultimate emissions profile of their cars. An EV is only as clean and green as the last charging station it visited. And in most cases, that charging station is only as green as the electric grid that feeds it.
Elisa Wood, January 14, 2013, Renewable Energy World magazine
What a difference a vote can make. The U.S. wind industry appeared ready to tumble off a cliff in late 2012 as the production tax credit, its chief federal subsidy, readied for expiration. But in a last minute vote, Congress extended the credit for another year on January 1, 2013 and thus activity is set to potentially pick up again for the U.S. What will this possible resurgence mean to the international market? How long will it last? And what’s being planned to sustain wind industry investment if Congress fails to extend the tax credit next year?
Elisa Wood, November 1, 2012, Renewable Energy World
The Northeast’s wind and solar farms evoked little public anxiety when Hurricane Sandy hit – unlike the nuclear and fossil fuel infrastructure.
Elisa Wood, October 31, 2012, AOL Energy
It’s hard to imagine two people less alike than Harold Hamm and Heather Zichal, the top energy advisers to the presidential candidates.
Elisa Wood, November 1, 2012, Cogeneration and Onsite Power Production magazine
Embraced as part of the country’s sweep to become more energy efficient, CHP is increasingly viewed as a way to meet environmental mandates, cut costs for recession-weary businesses, and invigorate manufacturing. As a result, the federal government is pushing for a 50% increase in the resource, and states are incorporating it more and more into clean energy policies. All of this comes at a time when CHP enjoys strong economics because of low natural gas prices.
Elisa Wood, October 10, 2012, AOL Energy
Touted by movie stars, discussed in presidential debates, solar and wind energy are the technological ‘it girls’ of our time. Meanwhile, combined heat and power, 100 years old and shaped like a box, can’t get a date with popular culture.
Elisa Wood, October, 2012, Renewable Energy World magazine
Is it possible to develop large solar projects with households as backers, and do it again and again? That’s the idea behind solar gardens or community shared solar, a trend catching fast in the US.
Elisa Wood, October 2012, Renewable Energy World magazine
In their bid for market share, Chinese wind energy companies are pressing rapidly into the Americas, Europe, Africa and Australia with a strategy that incorporates two seemingly disparate credos: ‘Buy from China’ and ‘Buy local.’
Elisa Wood, August 2012, Power Engineering International
“South American economies are seeing growth in recent years, and with economic growth comes increased demand for power. With this new demand comes an ideal opportunity to integrate sources of renewable power generation,” said Tim Rosenzweig, chief executive of Goldwind USA, a unit of China-based Goldwind, one of the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturers.
Elisa Wood, August 28, 2012, AOL Energy
It’s the season of eye-rolling and sighing for those who know energy. For good or bad, energy is a big issue in this year’s presidential campaign, served up in slogans and attacks that often miss the industry’s complexity.
Elisa Wood, August 20, 2012, AOL Energy
Voters aren’t the only ones frustrated by the swirl of misinformation surrounding energy; so are those in the industry who find themselves in a constant battle against the sound bite and the stereotype.
Elisa Wood, August 17, 2012, AOL Energy
Large swaths of voters don’t know that oil is a fossil fuel and can’t tell the difference between a solar panel and a skylight. But just setting them straight about the facts isn’t enough to produce an electorate that will arrive at the ballot box with a clear grasp of energy issues. If it were, the vast amount of information circulated about energy would sink in, and we’d all be experts.
What Voters Don’t Know About Energy
Elisa Wood, August 8, 2012, AOL Energy
Funny thing about Americans. We’ve got strong opinions about what’s wrong with energy, especially when gasoline prices rise, but our passion tends to exceed our understanding.
Solar in New York: Strategy to Make Solar Shine
Elisa Wood, June 2012, Renewable Energy World magazine
New York is home to Wall Street, Broadway, and arguably the best pizza in America. It can do so much so well. Why not large-scale solar?
Race for Renewables’ Game-changers Heats Up
Elisa Wood, April 2012, Renewable Energy World Magazine
‘Innovation economics’ is propelling a global hunt for inventions that can extend the frontiers of renewable generation.
Smart Grid in Far-Flung Places
Elisa Wood, April 2012, AOL Energy
In today’s interconnected energy world, it’s not easy for islands and remote communities, cut off from the ready energy supply of big grids, pipelines and superhighways. Witness the international drama last winter when Nome, Alaska became ice-locked and only secured fuel because of an elaborate sea effort by Russia and the US.
Time to Give Electric Storage Proper Credit?
Elisa Wood, March 5, 2012, AOL Energy
Electricity is a hoarder’s worst nightmare. It is difficult to capture and store on a large scale and within seconds of being created it disappears. As a result, the electric industry is the largest supply chain without a warehouse. But that could change if Congress adopts an investment tax credit proposed for energy storage technologies.
Utility Customers under the Microscope
Elisa Wood, February 2012, Platts’ Energy Economist
Fear, greed, envy, guilt, the human herd mentality and accomplishment: These are some of the emotions and motivations companies are trying to tap into to understand consumer behavior in relation to energy savings. Changing long-standing attitudes and patterns of behavior is the goal. It is a challenge in which psychology and economics are inextricably linked.
Solar Markets: A Study in Extremes
Elisa Wood, November 2011, Renewable Energy World magazine
The world is using more and more solar energy; of that there is no doubt. But solar comes in many sizes and shapes. Which will prevail in the coming five or 10 years?
Tough Times: North American Offshore Wind
Elisa Wood, January 2012, Platts’ Energy Economist
If there were a prize for stubbornness, it would go to North America’s offshore wind developers. They haven’t quit, even though 2011 was a particularly rough year that saw a moratorium on projects in the Great Lakes region and falling natural gas prices that only accentuate offshore wind’s high costs. 2012 may prove no better, bringing with it the possible end of, or at least an interruption to, key federal incentives.
US power demand growth uncertain
Elisa Wood, July 2011, Platts’ Energy Economist
Climate legislation has become a constant uncertainty in the calculus of US power plant investment, while a now less rosy demand outlook has pulled the rug out from under developers’ feet. And on top of a slow economic recovery is the growing role played by energy efficiency and demand side management. Demand for electricity is expected to grow overall, but in some US regions that growth may be marginal.
Energy Entrepreneurs Flock to Renewables Bonanza
Elisa Wood, October 2011, Renewable Energy World magazine
Never in history have renewables entrepreneurs seen such good times. But who are they? Where do they come from? And why are they arriving in a flood at renewable energy’s front gate?
Post Stimulus Financing: Will Renewable Energy Growth Continue?
Elisa Wood, August 2011, Renewable Energy World magazine
Money is flowing worldwide for many forms of renewable energy, and the industry presses forward with dramatic growth. But as stimulus funding winds down, can the growth continue?
Estimating the impact of US energy efficiency programs
Elisa Wood, May 2011, Energy Risk magazine
Many US states are now mandating deep cuts in power use through energy efficiency programs. However, for suppliers and utilities, working out the impact these programs will have on their business models is proving extremely difficult.
The dangers of energy generation
Elisa Wood, May 2011, Renewable Energy World magazine
In the aftermath of the Fukushima-Daiichi incident it should be recognized that all forms of generation involve risk — although wind and solar are among the safest.
BANANA resistance delays transmission plans
Elisa Wood, May 2011, Platts’ Energy Economist
Public support for renewables in the US is strong, but not as strong as opposition to the long transmission lines that might deliver that green electricity. A ‘founding father moment’ is required to transcend local concerns and act in the national interest. This could be achieved by federal policy, but there is little appetite for this in Congress. However, a start is being made in mapping out just what the options really are.
Is Cap and Trade Kaput?
Elisa Wood, March 2011, Renewable Energy World International magazine
What’s in a name? Everything when it comes to a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade programme in the US. Energy industry prognosticators saw US adoption as almost inevitable just two years ago following the election of President Obama. Then opponents dubbed the initiative ‘cap-and-tax’, a moniker that became a death knell in a political climate wary of raising taxes. Cap-and-trade legislation died with neither a bang nor a whimper; but with a slammed door. Meaningful political debate stopped on the federal level, and the words ‘greenhouse gases’ apparently ceased to be used in Washington, DC.
N.H. panel OKs bill to block transmission line
Elisa Wood, March 24, 2011, Platts’ Electric Power Daily
A New Hampshire legislative committee Tuesday approved a bill that would block the 1,200-MW transmission line planned to move power from Hydro-Quebec into New England.
“US Plans for Green Exports”
Elisa Wood, February 24, 2011, Renewable Energy World magazine
For the first time the US is attempting to build an export market for renewable energy. Will it succeed?
“National Grid to cut 1,200 US jobs, blames New York regulator”
Elisa Wood, February 1, 2011, Platts
National Grid’s goal is reduce costs by $200 million by March 2012 for its US companies, which are subsidiaries of the UK-based utility giant.
“China & the US: Opportunity or threat in the green revolution?”
Elisa Wood, December 29, 2010, Renewable Energy World magazine
The number of green relationships being established between the US and China is on the increase but does that mean these two giants can see past their differences?
“Oil and renewables: Slicing up the subsidy pie”
Elisa Wood, December 22, 2010, Renewable Energy World magazine
Oil companies and renewable energy firms are heading for a showdown over their relative share of public subsidies.
“A happy ending for US offshore wind?”
Elisa Wood, November 1, 2010, Power-Gen Worldwide
A decade of delay occasioned by hostile landowners and legal hurdles could now be nearing its end as the US’s first pioneering wind projects close in on approval for installation.
“The only way is up: CSP builds up heat”
Elisa Wood, July/August 2010, Renewable Energy World magazine
If you’re wondering where the Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) is heading from here, crane your neck and look upward. Forecasts show industry growth climbing steeply from 2010.
“Mix’n'match hybrids boost renewable load factors“
Elisa Wood, September/October 2010, Renewable Energy World magazine
Policymakers often portray energy sources as nearly at war with one another in an epic struggle of green versus brown, with the winner ultimately powering the world. But in today’s real world of grid operation, renewable and fossil fuel resources are treated more as allies, as pieces of a puzzle, which when fit together properly, keep on the lights with minimum impact on prices and the environment.
“Wind Farms: Are the best spots taken?”
Elisa Wood, May/June 2010, Renewable Energy World magazine
The wind sector is suffering from its own success. In the last decade the industry has expanded from a handful of wind farm developers to a plethora. These companies have left hardly a stone unturned – or rather a breeze unmeasured – in their quest for prime, onshore wind power sites. As a result, it is no longer easy to find large pieces of land in advanced markets with all the right ingredients for a wind project: strong and steady winds, a welcoming community and easy access to transmission. Developers find themselves jostling for position, with four of five companies sometimes vying for the same sweet spot.
“Crisis and opportunity: 18 months of explosive growth for renewables”
Elisa Wood, May 2010, Power Engineering International
In an odd way, the economic slowdown of 2009 turned out to be a good thing for renewable energy. The world needed jobs, quickly, and the renewable energy industry stood ready to not only boost employment, but also offer a range of other benefits: greenhouse gas reduction, freedom from over-reliance on petroleum, and greater energy security.
Blog: “Did energy cause this mess?”
Elisa Wood, March 11, 2010, Environmental Expert
Much of today’s economic debate boils down to these questions: How did we get in this mess? And how do we get out? While our economic tumble is clearly linked to an inflated housing market and overly-hedged financial products, we cannot discount pressure from high energy prices. In fact, 10 out of the 11 U.S. recessions since World War II (including this one) occurred after oil price spikes.
“Nodal pricing – from concept to reality”
Elisa Wood, January 2010, Platts’ Energy Economist
It’s hard to imagine something as arcane as ‘nodal pricing’ being an emotionally charged issue. But in the United States the concept has incited years of debate among energy players as the organized electricity markets, one by one, have adopted the wholesale pricing model.
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“Where are the green collar jobs you promised, Mr. President?”
Elisa Wood, November 2009, Power Engineering International
One year after President Barack Obama promised, “We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories,” the United States has failed to deliver a renewables-based power strategy. Elisa Wood investigates the reasons behind this delay.
“US Solar Spins a 360”
Elisa Wood, December 2009, Renewable Energy World magazine
The solar industry is finally feeling optimistic again, having apparently achieved a full 360 degree turn over the past 12 months, but what will 2010 hold?
“Winning Dixie: Drawing in the US Southeast”
Elisa Wood, June 2009, Renewable Energy Word magazine
With jobs precious and international competition fierce, Southern political leaders are carefully guarding their region’s low electricity prices to avoid losing manufacturers to foreign nations where energy costs even less. The Southern states do not oppose renewable energy; nor do they lack concern about greenhouse gas emissions; they worry about costs.
“Green Superhighway: Overhauling the Grid to Accommodate Renewables”
Elisa Wood, March/April 2009, Renewable Energy World magazine
US green energy advocates wasted no time. Just one day after President Barack Obama signed a bill giving the industry significant tax incentives, grants and loan support, they went to work on the next logical step: an overhaul of the transmission grid to accommodate a dramatic build-up of renewable energy.
“An Energy Revolution by the People”
Elisa Wood, April 2009, ejournal USA
High prices motivate consumers to reduce energy use more than any other factor. So how do you inspire them to conserve when they are not responsible for the bill? John Petersen, director of the environmental studies program at Oberlin College, faced this dilemma when he embarked on a project to reduce electricity use in the Ohio college’s dormitories. He found the answer in a crystal ball.
“Tough Times Ahead: Will the US Industry Need a New Story?”
Elisa Wood, January/February 2009, Renewable Energy World magazine
The financial credit crunch has replaced global warming as the current cataclysmic worry among consumers. Certainly, at first blush, these latest findings from the Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates (PSB) 2008 Green Brand Survey appear to support the adage that US consumers are environmentalists only when the economy is strong. But this time, the shift in thinking comes with a new and more complicated twist, one that has particular significance for renewable energy.
“US power: a cloudy crystal ball”
Elisa Wood, January 2009, Platts’ Energy Economist
Predicting future supply and demand for electricity is no mean feat. The US Energy Information Administration in its preliminary Annual Energy Outlook 2009 provides a benchmark projection for the business-as-usual case. But if one thing is certain, business is not its usual self. Demand will be hit by recession, while major policy changes appear certain, accelerating the adoption of new behaviors that could radically change the demand outlook for the US power industry.
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“Strong prospects for CHP under new US President”
Elisa Wood, January/February 2009, Cogeneration & Onsite Power Production magazine
The combined heat and power industry appeared poised for unprecedented support in the United States as the new Congress and President took office in January. President Barack Obama has vowed to make energy a foundation of his job-building platform, with efficiency and clean energy its basis. This boost comes after an encouraging 2008 for CHP, with new federal and state policies put in place that favor the resource.
“Tax credits boost US solar”
Elisa Wood, December 2008, Platts’ Energy Economist
For most people in the US, October 3, 2008 will go down in history as the infamous day that Congress approved an unprecedented $700 billion bailout for the financial industry. But for concentrated solar power advocates, it will also be remembered as the day the door swung wide to opportunity. Attached to the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 was an unrelated energy bill that included incentives for renewable energy, including an eight-year extension of the solar tax credit.
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“Reshaping US solar: Growth expected despite economy”
Elisa Wood, November/December 2008, Renewable Energy World
Outside the doors of the San Diego Convention Hall the world economy was falling apart, inside Aaron Hall, chief executive of California-based Borrego Solar Systems, was describing the rapid growth of his solar electric contracting firm. Revenue was US$7 million in 2005, $12 million in 2006, $30 million in 2007. For 2008, Hall projected revenue of $60 million, but said it may hit $80 million.’With the government passing the extension of the solar investment tax credits, we anticipate that 2009 will be another phenomenal year for Borrego and the entire solar industry,’ he said. Hall’s words – coming in October just after the stock market’s record crash and the tumbling of major merchant banks – underscored the rarified business climate renewable energy currently enjoys in the United States. Attendance alone at Solar Power International 2008 spoke volumes about the perceived health of the industry. More than 22,000 people showed up at the California conference, at least twice as many as last year.
“High winds for Texas: Lone Star State is stepping up”
Elisa Wood, September/October 2008, Renewable Energy World
Randall Swisher, the executive director of the American Wind Energy Association, has been telling people for a long time that wind energy is a great idea. And he has seen his efforts help move US wind power, step by step, from a fringe alternative to a mainstream resource. This work took decades, but he suddenly has on his hands what feels like an ‘overnight sensation’, brought on by a succession of events over the summer that pushed the wind resource to the fore of the American psyche. ‘It really does feel like just a huge wave of change is occurring,’ he said. ‘It was 25 to 30 years getting to this point, but people are waking up. People suddenly recognize that there may be something to this wind stuff.’
“Making solar hot water count: Generating green tags with solar hot water”
Elisa Wood, July/August 2008, Renewable Energy World
Solar hot water heating is a bit like the brilliant actor who never wins a blockbuster movie deal. The technology receives great reviews, but has yet to hit the big time in the US energy market. Using the sun to heat water has taken a backseat, in particular, to its sister technology, photovoltaics, which uses sunlight to generate electricity. Indeed, if jobs are an indicator, the US solar electric industry is several times the size of the solar hot water sector.
“Customer’s Guide to Solar Power Purchase Agreements”
Liz Merry & Elisa Wood, September 2008, Rahus Institute
The 40-page free guide explains the rapidly growing business model known as the solar power purchase agreement. Using a reader-friendly style and colorful graphics, the straightforward, easy-to-understand digital guide helps organizations throughout the United States understand whether a solar power purchase agreement is right for them.
Blog: “Is there romance in energy efficiency?”
By Elisa Wood, January 29, 2009, Energy Efficiency Markets
My mother told me many good reasons why I should get married. She appears to have forgotten one. It’s energy efficient. Single people – at least those without roommates – appear to be gobbling up a lot of our energy supply. In fact, one person households are a main cause of consumer energy waste, according to a recent study “Consumer Energy Spending and the Demographics of Over-Consumption” by SMR Research.
“No turning back: The US is on the road toward mandatory carbon restrictions”
Elisa Wood, November 2006,Renewable Energy World
Clear state leadership from California and elsewhere, public pressure, an insurance industry reeling from the shock of Hurricane Katrina — the US has shifted its thinking on climate change. Elisa Wood examines some of the mechanisms that could restrict carbon emissions, and what they might mean for renewables.
“Is wind a disruptive technology?”
Elisa Wood, October 2006, Platts’ Energy Economist
Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen coined the term “disruptive technology” to describe products that overturn the conventional way of solving problems and doing business. Disruptive technologies often reduce costs and increase efficiencies — but not without causing some pain to the status quo. The Internet was disruptive, as was the airplane, plastic, and probably the wheel. Lately the term has been associated with wind energy, as its robust growth forces a rethinking of grids, resource planning, and regulations.
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“Success on the Horizon: US wind company goes from strength to strength”
Elisa Wood, September 2006,Renewable Energy World
Horizon Wind Energy is a Cinderella story of the wind industry. Begun as a small family start-up, the company turned heads in March 2005 when it landed the glass slipper. Financial powerhouse Goldman Sachs purchased Horizon, a landmark event often cited by analysts to underscore wind’s new standing as serious competition to oil, gas, coal and nuclear generation, Elisa Wood reports.
“Tipping point: Is the US wind industry having its ‘magic moment’?”
Elisa Wood, July 2006, Renewable Energy World
Just five years ago, 1,000 people turned out for the American Wind Energy Association’s annual conference; this year that figure reached 5,000. Wind is no longer a boutique industry; indeed, it is rapidly evolving into mainstream player, gaining recognition at the highest levels, writes Elisa Wood.
“Liberalization under attack: what does it mean for on-site power in the US?”
Elisa Wood, July 2006,Cogeneration & Onsite Power Production
Grousing about restructuring rose to a bellow last year when consumers saw their electric rates double in some states. Critics of competition proclaimed deregulation a failure and went to work trying to persuade decision-makers to return the industry to a utility-centered model. Their arguments caught the attention of lawmakers in key Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states, areas that along with California led the way restructuring the U.S. electric sector at the end of the last decade. Some state leaders now wonder if they moved too quickly to deregulate electricity markets, and they are taking a hard look at rolling back reforms. Elisa Wood looks at the likely impact on distributed energy.
“Blackout threat creates opportunity for DE”
Elisa Wood, May/June 2006, Distributed Energy
New England is running short on power. With California-style blackouts possible within two years, no time exists to build large power plants. Will the region become the nation’s next energy embarrassment? Elisa Wood explains why even top federal energy regulators are worried.