Welcome to the first entry to the “Chester Energy and Policy” blog. In an attempt to keep this short, I’d just like to give a brief introduction of myself and why I am starting this blog, as well as give a preview as to what types of posts I plan on writing to fill my tiny corner of the internet.
My name is Matt Chester, and I am a professional in the energy technology and energy policy fields in Washington, D.C. You can find a more extensive look at my experience and background in the About: Me section, but the quick hits are the following:
- My educational background is in Mechanical Engineering, with a focus in Civil Engineering as well as Science & Technology Policy.
- I have held several positions as a contractor in the federal policy arena, all of them with me focused on consulting various offices of the Department of Energy (DOE).
- My passions have always laid in public policies that promote energy efficiency, energy independence, and advancement of renewable energy—specifically in the analysis of relevant data, technologies, and news.
As I have held a number of positions in the consulting and federal energy arenas, I have been itching to create an outlet for me to share my outlook. I created this blog to find and refine my voice when it comes to energy and policy issues, share with others what I have already learned and continue to learn every day, and advertise myself as a potential resource for people to tap into for any help they might need– either in a formal or informal manner.
I will also make the point here, as well in any subsequent posts where it might be particularly relevant, that I intend to avoid anything particularly political. I am not here to comment on political appointments or partisan debates—rather I intend to focus on analysis of facts. There will be certainly be times where there are developments in the politics of the energy field, and in those cases I will comment on the policy process itself, but I intend to avoid advocating for or against any particular policy. I base this in my educational background as an engineer and my professional background as a consultant—I will allow myself to analyze and present facts, but wherever it may bleed into political debates I will leave it to the reader to make their own conclusions based on those facts.
Though this creative and professional endeavor of mine is only in its infancy at the time of this posting, I already have a number of series of posts in development. Below you will find 11 different articles series, as well as a brief introduction to the types of posts you can expect to find in those series. Currently, my plan will be to publish a new post at least once a week, though if inspiration strikes then I will certainly not hold back on posting more frequently. I also plan to roll out a social media presence for my blog posts simultaneously with the posting of this first article—please see this blog’s official Twitter account , and I will also post a link to this blog on my professional LinkedIn account. Through those outlets, as well as through email and the comments section of each post, I would love to hear any and all feedback or constructive criticism. Please also share with your friends and colleagues, let me know if you have an idea for a topic you’d like me to discuss, or tell me why I’m wrong if you disagree with something I post. All manners of feedback are welcome!
- Insights and Advice: Using my experience as a consultant involved in various DOE processes, these articles will be my venue to share some insider tips and tricks about those federal energy and policy processes. Whether through detailing the intricacies of the federal rulemaking process, analyzing the energy policies coming through the Federal Register, or providing copy-editing advice for technical and/or government writing, the “Insights and Advice” series will highlight some best practices and provide the perspective from a career consultant to the DOE processes.
- Technology Highlights: One of the best questions I ever got asked during a job interview was to pick a specific energy-related technology and explain it in a simple way such that a non-technologically literate person (the interviewer said my grandmother, but hey—there are plenty of tech-savvy grandmas out there!) could understand. The ability to explain highly technical concepts to people who do not have a technical background is not always easy, but it is crucial in both the technology and policy worlds as technologies advance at breakneck speeds and widespread understanding remains crucial to the nation’s energy systems. In the “Technology Highlights” series, I will break down energy technologies that are useful to individual consumers as well as commercial enterprises with digestible and easy to understand guides.
- Development in Energy Policy: The landscape of energy policy in the United States is fast moving, and it can be difficult to keep track of all of the developments. I intend to use this article series to highlight news and progress in energy policy, break down the issues, and make clear how those developments might affect you.
- Checking in on the Federal Register: Similar to the “Development in Energy Policy” series, this series of articles will shine a spotlight onto the incremental process of federal energy policy. Specifically, when there are notices in the Federal Register—the daily government journal where official agency rules, proposed rules, and public notices are published—relevant to the energy topics of this blog, I will read, summarize, and comment on those postings so you don’t have to do so yourself.
- DOE in Focus: Most people outside the Department of Energy don’t fully realize the breadth of DOE’s mission, the wide-ranging projects constantly underway, or how many programs, offices, and laboratories there are across the nation performing amazing work. In the “DOE in Focus” series of articles, I will feature specific offices and laboratories, give some background into their histories and missions, and highlight some interesting recent projects and developments at those locations.
- Profile of Organizations in Energy: Outside of public agencies, there are countless organizations– both businesses and non-profits– that put energy at the center of their focus. This article series will serve to highlight some of the great work being done by these enterprises, and if we’re lucky they’ll allow for opportunities to speak directly with people in those organizations.
- History Lessons: Both technology and public policy are extremely incremental processes where you can only really understand the current landscape and developments if you trace back through the historical precedents. With that in mind, I intend to periodically dive into landmarks of energy and policy past and provide overviews and context. In doing so, I intend to relate these “History Lessons” articles to the relevant news of the day.
- Data Corner: Having gone to engineering school, I’ve long loved diving into data sets and excel models. The “Data Corner” series will be my opportunity to focus in on various data sources— e.g., publicly available DOE data and energy-efficient technology market data—and play with different methods of data visualization and statistical analysis.
- Book Reviews: The “Book Reviews” series of articles is pretty self-explanatory—as I read books on energy technologies and policies (and use this article series as motivation to add more of these books to my personal reading list), I will write up my thoughts on the book. I will evaluate the books based on its content, readability, and fact-based authority, ultimately giving them a rating on a scale of one to five stars.
- Product Reviews: The market for products for the energy conscious consumers is rapidly expanding these days, as being “green” is no longer niche and sustainability is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. The “Product Reviews” series will enable me to shamelessly buy the latest products for myself to test out at home and write up my thoughts and reviews.
- Fun Off-Topic: In this series of articles, I will highlight some less serious topics related to energy and policy. These topics will be lighthearted and fun, a break from the more data and factually heavy topics, including pop culture depictions of energy topics, looking into the energy related topics of some of my various hobbies, or anything else that might pop into my head.
While these are just the article series that are planned out at this point, there are certain to be additional articles outside of these 11 umbrella topics that I get inspired to write and new article series will be added. If you have suggestions about a series of articles outside of the above you’d be interested in, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.
So to sum up, thanks for reading this far and I hope you continue to check back regularly for updates and new articles as I flesh out this website!
About the author: Matt Chester is an energy analyst in Washington DC, studied engineering and science & technology policy at the University of Virginia, and operates this blog and website to share news, insights, and advice in the fields of energy policy, energy technology, and more. For more quick hits in addition to posts on this blog, follow him on Twitter @ChesterEnergy.