Charles Komanoff


Lighting the Way to Conservation and Efficiency

New, from the archives: My Sept 3, 1977 letter leading the New York Times' editorial page, explaining how malfeasance by Con Edison rather than environmentalists' blocking power projects was responsible for the devastating July 13, 1977 NYC blackout.

Also from the archives and new here: My 1974 article, The Storm King Controversy, co-authored with attorney Ken Semmel and published in the short-lived journal New York Affairs, outlining a less-expensive and environmentally superior alternative to the (in)famous massive "pumped-storage" hydroelectric project that Con Edison had sought for a decade to build at Storm King Mountain in the heart of the Hudson Highlands 50 miles north of New York City. Our alternative, which we conceived while working at the NYC EPA (the precursor to the DEP), was an early example of holistic power-system planning and analysis. It also helped keep the project at bay until evidence of its damaging effects on the Hudson's striped bass fisheries came to light, leading to the project's official demise in the late 1970s.

In December 1977, Harper's magazine published a fascinating critique of the environmental movement, "Environmentalism and the Leisure Class," asserting that the wealthy had co-opted environmentalism at the expense of the middle class and, especially, the poor. That article, by journalist William Tucker, raised important issues but misfired badly in using the Storm King controversy as its foil. Harper's published Ken Semmel's and my response to Tucker's article in its Feb. 1978 issue.

"To Move Mountains, Fix Markets -- An Economist's Agenda for Sustainable NYC" (Sept. 2006)

My April 2001 essay, Edison Meet Carvel, in which an impromptu seminar in a NYC subway car comes to illuminate larger issues of energy efficiency, cost and politics.

My 2002 report for Riverkeeper, Securing Power Through Conservation and Efficiency in New York, explaining how participatory energy efficiency could allow retirement of the Indian Point reactors in Westchester County north of New York City.

See Oil, Before & After 9/11 for more reports on conservation and energy efficiency

During 2004-06, I helped create "Greening A Block," envisioned as a groundbreaking energy-efficiency demonstration project to turn an ordinary Lower East Side block south of the Con Edison 14th Street power plant into an urban showcase for energy efficiency, pollution reduction, job development and community sustainability. My partners in this venture were Jeff Perlman of Bright Power, Inc., and the Neighborhood Energy Network. Alas, parochial interests at Manhattan Community Board No. 3 sidetracked the project even after the board had approved it nearly unanimously. More info at

My May 17, 1979 cover article in the New York Review of Books, Doing Without Nuclear Power, published after the Three Mile Island reactor meltdown, in which I heralded emerging energy-efficiency and renewable-energy technologies that would undermine the nuclear industry.