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Featured Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Mar 1, 2017

Energy Democracy in 4 Powerful Steps

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/energy-democracy-in-4-steps/

There’s no question that the energy system is undergoing change. One need look no further than the 1 million solar rooftops in the U.S. or — for the wonky — the source of new power capacity in the U.S. over the past 15 years. In 2003, just 20% of new electric capacity came from renewable power plants. In the last eight years, it’s been at or over 60% almost every year. In the first three quarters of 2016, 16% of our new power capacity came from distributed solar alone (such as home rooftop solar arrays).

But few people realize that the change from fossil fuels to renewable sources is just a harbinger for a phase of massive disruption in energy markets. The disruption will remake how the energy system serves its users and offer unprecedented choices for customers. It may go further than choice.  As the energy system shifts away from the outdated utility monopoly model, the four Ds of energy democracy — distributed power, decentralization, democracy from ownership, and disruptive technology — have the potential to put those users in charge and allow them to reap the economic benefits.

Democracy from Distributed Power

Power generation is the first line of democratization, brought on by the miniaturization of power plants. Last century was defined by gigawatt-scale nuclear and coal and hundred-megawatt-scale gas power plants. Now, power generation has shrunk down to multi-megawatt wind turbines and multi-watt solar panels.

Even the largest wind and solar power plants are compilations of hundreds or thousands of mass produced individual turbines or solar cells.  Continue reading

Featured Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States, Independent Business, The Public Good | Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Mar 23, 2017

Breaking Through Partisanship: Left-Right-Local – Episode 14 of the Building Local Power Podcast

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/breaking-through-partisanship-left-right-local-episode-14-of-the-building-local-power-podcast/

In this episode, Christopher Mitchell, the director of ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks initiative, interviews John Farrell, Stacy Mitchell, and David Morris, directors of our Energy Democracy, Community-Scaled Economies, and Public Good initiatives, respectively. The group discusses the nature of local policies and politics versus the national-level fights and hyper-partisanship. Continue reading

Featured Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by Karlee Weinmann | No Comments | Updated on Mar 15, 2017

Video: A Solar Leader Emerges in Rural Iowa

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/video-solar-rural-iowa/

It seems counter-intuitive that a conservative farming community in southeastern Iowa is home to some of the most expansive solar generation in the U.S. But that’s exactly what’s happening in the area served by Farmers Electric Cooperative, the rural utility whose enterprising leader, Warren McKenna, saw renewables as a gateway to economic vitality. Last summer,… Continue reading

Featured Article filed under Broadband | Written by Lisa Gonzalez | No Comments | Updated on Mar 23, 2017

Legislative and Broadband Relief For Pinetops, North Carolina In Sight

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/legislative-and-broadband-relief-for-pinetops-north-carolina-in-sight/

Since August 2016, the small community of Pinetops has been on the verge of losing their best connection to the 21st century – high quality Internet access. The North Carolina Legislature has a chance to change all that this session with legislation that will carve out an exception to restrictive state laws that prevent a… Continue reading

Featured Article filed under Broadband, Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by Karlee Weinmann | No Comments | Updated on Mar 2, 2017

Arkansas Utility Leads on Energy, Broadband

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/arkansas-utility-leads-on-energy-broadband/

This article was co-written with ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks initiative research associate, Hannah Trostle, and this piece is cross-posted on MuniNetworks.org. Ouachita Electric Cooperative, nestled deep in south-central Arkansas, is an unlikely innovator in a pair of industries struggling to adapt to shifting market dynamics: electricity and broadband. Despite rising demand for energy efficiency and… Continue reading