Blog Post

S. David Freeman, an Early Efficiency Visionary, Passes On

May 14, 2020

We learned yesterday that S. David Freeman, an energy-efficiency leader for nearly 50 years, died of a heart attack at age 94. Sometimes known as the “green cowboy” for the hat he always wore (and the title of his autobiography), at various points in his career he served as the head of several of America’s largest public utilities – the Tennessee Valley Authority, the New York Power Authority, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and the Lower Colorado River Authority.

In all of these organizations, energy efficiency efforts expanded substantially during his tenure.


In a March 2018 interview with E&E (subscription needed), Freeman said his most important contribution to energy policy was a study he completed for the Ford Foundation in 1973-74 that promoted the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency. Freeman sent that report to the governors of every state. "One of them was Jimmy Carter. He actually read the report, and it formed the foundation of his energy policy," Freeman said.

Freeman was known for speaking his mind. As he said on the back cover of his autobiography, “when you speak your mind, you can get bad people to do good things.” Freeman was twice a plenary speaker at the ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings and over the years was a friend to ACEEE in many other ways.

Further information on his colorful career and accomplishments is provided in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times story.


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