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Professional Dedicated to Energy Independence

January 12, 2010 - 3:37pm


Bill Sandusky wakes up at 4 a.m. ready to go to work reducing America’s dependency on foreign sources of energy. No, Bill is not an insomniac. Rather, he is a passionate professional who has worked for nearly four decades at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash.

He launched his career in 1972, the year before major oil suppliers in the Middle East imposed a game-changing oil embargo upon the United States. Bill has thought about how to overcome America’s energy obstacles ever since.

“We can’t expect one solution to [today’s] energy crisis,” he says.

Bill leaves lofty speeches to the politicians. He knows if we are ever to break our grip on foreign energy it will have to be through new technologies and hard work behind the scenes.

During his career at PNNL, Bill has led research activities to increase energy security, protect the environment and improve efficiency for Federal agencies, state and local governments, and the nation at large. Studying issues ranging widely from atmospheric physics to energy efficiency and water conservation, he has authored more than 150 technical reports, making the science of energy his life’s work.

One of Bill’s early studies clearly demonstrated how much energy the average American wastes. “We saw there was a tremendous opportunity to save resources from rural homeowners to the largest corporations,” he says.

At the same time, Bill walks the walk of energy efficiency in his personal life.

At home, Bill uses a solar water heater and a passive solar thermal system. He walks to work during the summer. He also prefers reading a book over using the king of all energy hogs – the television.

Throughout his life, Bill has always been interested in the planetary system, the galaxies and solar systems. He grew up in Satellite Beach, Fla. – an appropriately named town for a student of astronomy. He was trained in space technologies and meteorology, so it was natural that Bill gravitated to the Department of Energy’s wind program in the 1980s. When NASA designed many of the early turbines, he says, “there were a lot of early failures, but people persevered. Even back then, we were far too dependent on oil resources.”

Bill and others like him sounded the alarm early that America needed to diversify its energy mix. Since then, they’ve been steering the United States toward a brighter future.

The road to energy independence won’t be based on one technology, Bill says, instead it will come through “a series of solutions that have to be worked together.”