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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 1 Comment | Updated on Jan 11, 2012

Democratic energy policy means strong public support for renewables

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/democratic-energy-policy-means-strong-public-support-renewables/

Conducted by market research institute Forsa on behalf of municipal utilities in Germany, the survey found that 61 percent of Germans are willing to pay more for their power if the extra cost helps ramp up the share of renewables. Public acceptance even extends to acceptance of wind turbines “in my backyard”; 54 percent of those surveyed said they would find it “good” or “very good” if a wind turbine were set up nearby.

That’s the German feed-in tariff at work…

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Article, ILSR Press Room, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by ILSR Admin | No Comments | Updated on Dec 19, 2011

John Farrell Talks Democratizing the Electricity System Through Decentralizing Power on WKBM

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/john-farrell-talks-democratizing-electricity-system-through-decentralizing-power-wkbm/

In this Nov. 20 interview with Baruch on his WKBM Paradigms program, we talked about: The coming decentralization of the electricity system The folly of a building inherently decentralized technology (wind and solar) in a centralized fashion The benefits for local ownership of a decentralized system How limited economies of scale for solar and wind… Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Dec 12, 2011

Distributed generation needs less backup than centralized power generation

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/distributed-generation-needs-less-backup-centralized-power-generation/

 

One doesn’t need 540 MW of reserve to back up 540 MW of small-scale distributed generation, but one does need it to back up a single critical 540 MW unit.

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 3 Comments | Updated on Dec 2, 2011

American and Germany Getting Their Renewable Energy Just Desserts

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/american-and-germany-getting-their-renewable-energy-just-desserts/

Germany is the unquestioned world leader in renewable energy.  By mid-2011, the European nation generated over 20 percent of its electricity from wind and solar power alone, and had created over 400,000 jobs in the industry. The sweet German success is no accident, however, and the following pie chart illustrates the results of a carefully… Continue reading

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Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 1 Comment | Updated on Nov 22, 2011

Democratizing the Electricity System: A Vote for Local Solar

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/democratizing-electricity-system-vote-local-solar/

This is a presentation by John Farrell to the MDV-SEIA Solar Energy Focus conference in Washington, DC.  In it, I discuss the transformation in the electricity system being wrought by clean energy sources, the winning economies of local solar power, how the drawbacks of solar are technically surmountable, and how public policy must change to… Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Nov 18, 2011

Bigger Subsidies Make Bigger Solar a Bad Bet

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/bigger-subsidies-make-bigger-solar-bad-bet/

Americans seem unable to resist big things, and solar power plants are no exception. There may be no reasoning with an affinity for all things “super sized,” but the economics of large scale solar projects (and the unwelcome public scrutiny) should bury the notion that bigger is better for solar. In fact, smaller scale solar… Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 1 Comment | Updated on Nov 17, 2011

Solar Power is Not a Land Use Problem

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/solar-power-not-land-use-problem/

While large-scale solar creates contention between environmental advocates and renewable energy proponents, the truth is that there are thousands of acres in already developed land where solar can easily fit.  This infographic explains.

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Nov 10, 2011

Community Wind Act: More Locally Owned Wind Power

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/community-wind-act-more-locally-owned-wind-power/

Wind TurbineThe use of the tax code has long made the federal wind power incentives something of a bane for community wind power.  Finding strategies to use the passive-income-only Production Tax Credit has made community wind developers do legal acrobatics to structure deals with tax equity partners that can use the credits.

Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Jon Tester (D-MT) hope to make community wind easier with the Community Wind Act.

The bill, introduced in late October 2011, would extend an existing 30% investment tax credit (ITC) for very small wind (100 kilowatts and smaller) to wind projects up to 20 megawatts in size.  Since the ITC doesn’t require passive income, it may be easier for community wind developers to use the credit internally or to find tax equity partners closer to home. 

Brian Minish, whose company Val-Add Services helped develop the innovative South Dakota Wind Partners community wind project, believes that the Community Wind Act could make a big difference: 

We strongly support the Franken-Tester Community wind bill so other groups like ours have the opportunity to build competitive wind farm projects.  Not needing to have investors with passive income to be able to utilize the production tax credits to take advantage of the federal incentive helped our project be successful.

The Wind Partners project brought together over 600 local farmers and South Dakota residents to own seven utility-scale wind turbines in a 10.5 megawatt wind project and utilized the short-lived cash grant in lieu of the Production Tax Credit.  With the Community Wind Act, Wind Partners could more easily be replicated.

Click here for the full bill (pdf) or a 1-page summary from Sen. Franken’s office.  Click here to track S. 1741 on Govtrack.

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 5 Comments | Updated on Nov 2, 2011

Citizens give “going Boulder” a new meaning: local energy self-reliance

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/citizens-give-going-boulder-new-meaning-local-energy-self-reliance/

By a razor-thin margin, Boulder citizens gave the city a victory for energy self-reliance on Tuesday, approving two ballot measures to let the city form a municipal utility.  If the city moves ahead, it would capture nearly $100 million currently spent on electricity imports and instead create up to $350 million in local economic development by dramatically increasing local clean energy production.   

The stage was set over several years, as the city’s multiple pleas for more clean energy were given short shrift by the incumbent electric utility, Xcel Energy.  Instead of meeting local demands for more wind and solar power, Xcel instead financed a new coal power plant and told Boulder that it could have more wind power only if it paid extra, and paid when the wind didn’t blow.  In response, the city authorized two measures for the Nov. 1 ballot to allow the city to pursue municipal clean energy production.

The campaign was enormously lopsided.  Xcel dumped nearly $1 million into a vote ‘no’ campaign,  outspending local clean energy supporters by a 10-to-1 margin and spending nearly $77 for each no vote.  On the flip side, nearly every local business or newspaper endorsement (and nearly 1000 individual citizen endorsements) supported a ‘yes’ vote.  Despite the financial disadvantage, the local grassroots groups won, though their margin of victory was less than 3%.

The victory margin was small, but the clean energy and economic opportunity is enormous.  According to a citizen-led and peer reviewed study, the city could increase renewable energy production by 40 percent from multiple, local sources without increasing rates.  In contrast to the $100 million in revenue sent to Xcel under the current arrangement, the economic value of local energy production and ownership could multiply within the city’s economy to as much as $350 million a year, according to research by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.   

If the city uses its new authority to become a utility, future generations may look back at 11/1/11 as the shot heard round the world – a shot fired for clean, local energy – and ask why more Americans didn’t “go Boulder” sooner. 

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Article, ILSR Press Room filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by ILSR Admin | No Comments | Updated on Oct 27, 2011

John Farrell Talks Solar Powered America in 2026 on the David Sirota Show

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://ilsr.org/john-farrell-talks-solar-powered-america-2026-david-sirota-show/

On Tuesday, ILSR Senior Researcher John Farrell was invited on the David Sirota Show on AM760 in Denver to talk about his article on Local Solar Could Power America in 2026. Click here to find the podcast from iTunes (Sirota Tuesday 10-25-11, Hour 3), the segment starts at 16:24. Continue reading