Thirteen-year-old energy consultant

Tei Gordon, an eighth-grader from Corvallis, Oregon, uses his father’s computer to obtain weekly climate data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  He publishes the information in a weekly newsletter and mails it to his clients months before they can receive it directly from the government.  Now in its fourth year of business, Tei Gordon’s Energy Advisory Service has more than 100 subscribers at $47 a year.  Gordon’s clients include such businesses as General Mills and J.C. Penney.  They depend on this information to conserve energy in thousands of buildings across the nation.  The Energy Advisery Service began when an adult friend of Gordon’s suggested the idea.  A computer programmer with his father’s company then helped design the software for the newsletter.  Gordon advertised his product in The Energy User’s News, which has a subscriber base of 42,000 energy managers nationwide.

Each Monday at 7 A.M., Tei receives statistics from Washington, D.C., concerning degree days in 210 cities.  Used as index of fuel consumption, degree-days are calculated every 24 hours to indicate how far the day’s mean temperature fell below 65 degrees.  

Tei arranges his energy information on a computer screen, prints an original, then photocopies it for his subscribers.  His newsletter provides data that helps subscribers evaluate conservation measures in their buildings.  General Mills, for example, uses Gordon’s newsletter to study energy conservation in its Minneapolis buildings.  The corporation has achieved nearly a 25 percent reduction in energy used—a savings of $13 million a year—thanks in part to energy information provided by Tei Gordon’s Energy Advisory Service.  Most clients have no idea that the information they purchase is compiled by a 13-year-old.  Gordon’s father, Richard, at first viewed the business as an educational exercise.  But now his firm is helping to expand the applications of the information newsletter to a broader base of buildings.

This 13-year-old energy consultant signifies the power of faster information.  During the Information Revolution the combination of a good idea and the delivery of vital information in a timely manner has created the opportunity for a junior high school student to turn data into dollars.