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About John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Self-Reliant States and Communities program at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he focuses on energy policy developments that best expand the benefits of local ownership and dispersed generation of renewable energy. More

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Feb 27, 2015

Can a State’s Solar Party Start Without It?

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/states-solar-party-start-it/

In about half of U.S. states, an individual or business can have solar installed on their roof owned by someone else, and either buy the power or lease the array from that third party. These power purchase or lease models drastically simplify the process of going solar (at a price), avoiding the work of managing… Continue reading

jff presenting in tucson cropped
Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Feb 20, 2015

Could Solar Shine in a Tucson City-Utility Partnership?

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/solar-shine-tucson-city-utility-partnership/

A city in the sunny southwest, Tucson is wondering how it can maximize its use of cost-effective, economy-boosting solar power. Is a partnership with the electric utility, as seen in Minneapolis, the answer? ILSR’s Director of Democratic Energy gave this presentation to several audiences on a recent (delightful) visit to Tucson, Arizona, to explore the… Continue reading

cloud over solar panel - flickr  Pieter Morlion
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Feb 11, 2015

How and Why Utilities Make Solar Look Expensive

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/utilities-solar-expensive/

I’m visiting the wonderful folks from Sustainable Tucson in Arizona next week to talk about the opportunities that solar and clean energy offer their local economy. In preparation, I’m looking at their current monopoly electricity provider, Tucson Electric Power. Remarkably, the utility acquires just 4% of its electricity from renewable resources (and over 70% from… Continue reading

computer-screen 5 pillars
Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Feb 6, 2015

Unveiling the Five Pillars of Energy Democracy

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/unveiling-pillars-energy-democracy/

Exciting changes are on the horizon for our century-old utility structure as solar power, energy storage, and electric vehicles open new avenues for utility customers to produce their own power and control their energy use. Utilities are scrambling to remain relevant in this technological firestorm, and energy wonks are envisioning a new business model––Utility 2.0––that… Continue reading

titanic iceberg - flickr Jimmy
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Feb 6, 2015

Are We Sunk? The Electric Utility’s Titanic Problem

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/electric-utility-titanic-problem/

In my recent report on the utility business model of the future, I laid out 5 pillars of a democratic energy system. It’s hard not to notice the contrast between this vision of the future and the 15-year business plan laid out by Xcel Energy in Minnesota, the incumbent monopoly serving about half the state’s… Continue reading

rick evans and john farrell debate value of solar MNSEIA conference Nov 2014
Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jan 30, 2015

Utility and Advocate Debate Value of Solar

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/utility-advocate-debate-solar/

At a Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association conference in November 2014, ILSR’s Director of Democratic Energy John Farrell tilted with Xcel Energy’s Rick Evans about the state’s dormant value of solar policy and whether it was likely to be adopted in the near future. Watch the 68-minute video to see the two address a variety… Continue reading

santa fe sunset - flickr Drriss & Marrionn
Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jan 23, 2015

How to Maximize Municipal Energy Options for Santa Fe (Public Radio Broadcast)

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/talking-municipal-energy-options-santa-fe-public-radio/

Santa Fe, NM, is battling with its electric utility, PNM, over the utility’s continued heavy reliance on large-scale fossil fuel power plants in a state with some of the best sun and wind resources in the country. Director of Democratic Energy John Farrell joined Santa Fe City Councilor Patti Bushee to discuss options for Santa… Continue reading

Screenshot minneapolis partnership roundtable video
Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jan 13, 2015

Video Roundtable: the Minneapolis-Utility Clean Energy Partnership

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/video-roundtable-minneapolis-utility-clean-energy-partnership/

What can we expect from the first-in-the-nation clean energy partnership between the City of Minneapolis and its electric and gas utilities? Check out this video conversation from a November 2014 MNSEIA conference in Minnesota with the utilities, the city, and the lead grassroots organization about the history, the agreement, and the hopes for this novel… Continue reading

luxury tax monopoly - flickr Philip Taylor
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 1 Comment | Updated on Jan 9, 2015

Electricity’s Un-Natural Monopoly

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/electricitys-unnatural-monopoly/

The U.S. electricity system is undergoing the biggest change in its 130-year history, undermining the rationale for monopoly ownership and control. Until recently, electricity service was similar to water or roads, where a natural monopoly was most efficient. Only a single, standardized electric grid was needed to connect each building. Technology options were limited to… Continue reading

us installed cost of solar power ilsr
Featured Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 2 Comments | Updated on Jan 6, 2015

The Three Biggest Solar Charts of 2014

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/biggest-solar-charts-2014/

The rise of solar power allows a further democratizing of the electricity system, and these charts illustrate how 2014 was a banner year for solar, but particularly distributed solar power. Apologies for the re-post of these charts, but I wanted to do a year-in-review approach to these solar charts. First, the following chart shows that 2014… Continue reading