Mark Chediak, Chris Martin, Ken Wells and Jim Polson 2013
The three-part project opened by showing how the structure of the power grid makes it vulnerable to rooftop solar and cheaper renewables. A second piece works to explain the home-grown utilities called microgrids, which allow businesses and homeowners to cut the cord to their power company. And a final story looks at pushback from utilities in Hawaii and Arizona to cheap rooftop solar. They explore the politics by which conservatives join forces with environmental groups to advocate for expansion of solar power.
Signifying the stories’ reach was the social media buzz it created: According to editor-at-large Ken Wells, “Hundreds of tweets a day on Twitter and over 700 comments alone on Bloomberg.com on the utility blowback story.”
NPF judges said: “This Bloomberg series opens a window on a downside to green energy that few lay people had previously thought about. Extensive reporting facilitated compelling anecdotes that helped explain complex challenges to the centralized power grid. Particularly interesting were the residents, power executives and politicians who told the story of solar proliferation that is hobbling the legacy power industry in Hawaii, putting on the brakes in California and threatening similar effects elsewhere.”
The Thomas L. Stokes Awardwas established in the spring of 1959 by friends and admirers of the late Thomas L. Stokes, the syndicated Washington columnist on national affairs. It is given annually for the best writing on subjects of interest to Stokes, including energy and natural resources.
The Bloomberg team will receive $1,000 and a citation at NPF’s annual awards dinner on Feb. 18.