The Post-Election Potential for a 30 Million Solar Home Stimulus — Episode 116 of Local Energy Rules

Date: 4 Nov 2020 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

The Nov. 3rd election is behind us, though the votes are still being counted. How will the next presidential administration, whichever that may be, affect the potential for a distributed solar stimulus?

For this post-Election Day episode of the Local Energy Rules podcast, John Farrell and Katie Kienbaum of ILSR’s Energy Democracy Initiative discuss the intersection between federal policy and 30 Million Solar Rooftops: a vision for equitable economic recovery built on climate protection and energy democracy.

Listen to the full episode and explore more resources below — including a transcript and summary of the conversation.

John Farrell What will the 2020 election mean for solar policy and can a proposal focused on rooftops overcome the partisan divide? Two members of the Energy Democracy team at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, myself and Katie Kienbaum, have a conversation about what election month could mean for 30 million solar rooftops. I’m John Farrell, director of the Energy Democracy Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and this is Local Energy Rules, a biweekly podcast sharing powerful stories about local, renewable energy. Katie, thanks for joining me to talk about 30 million solar rooftops.
Katie Kienbaum Of course, glad to be here.
John Farrell We’re recording this podcast on October 27th, one week before an election that’s going to happen. And it seems like a few people have been thinking about this. So I just wanted to start by saying it’s all over. Like the votes have been cast. Things have been sent in, the mailing deadlines are passed. Just take a deep breath. We probably don’t know the results yet, but we’re probably already starting to argue about what we’re going to count. I’m sure it’s going to be terrible, but I’ll just take a collective deep breath together. We made it past November 3rd. Congratulations. You’re still here. So now that we’ve got that out of her system, hopefully, Katie might or might not have recorded prerecorded some either cheers or sobs that we can play given the preliminary election results. But we wanted to talk about this 30 million idea, of 30 million solar rooftops. So I was hoping Katie, that you could start out by just explaining what is the goal of this program? What does this program look like? Why are we talking at ILSR about 30 million solar rooftops?
Katie Kienbaum Well, thankfully John, when you had this idea, you made the goal pretty obvious by giving it the name 30 million solar rooftops. The overarching goal of the proposal will be to deploy 30 million solar rooftops, as the name implies, or the equivalent or 30 million solar rooftops to provide, like you said, an economic stimulus to help combat climate change, to help spread those impacts more equitably to low-income communities, communities of color and other communities that have historically been impacted most, both by, you know, high, un-affordable energy costs, the impact of fossil fuel generation for power. That kind of thing.
John Farrell We kind of came up with this idea about six months ago, and it was really a response to thinking about, sort of an existential dilemma I was facing, watching everything that was happening with COVID and then also thinking about the protests around George Floyd and kind of wondering, like, what meaning does the kind of work that we do focused on distributed energy resources and community self-determination have in this climate that we’re in? Not just the climate that’s changing, obviously, but the political climate and realizing that there’s a lot of really great conversation. I mean, there’s so much organizing work that has been done by the Sunrise Movement, by the 350 organization, by so many people to make sure that climate change and a response to climate change are part of our political conversation right now, that there was an opportunity to try to combine that with the immediate needs of an economic stimulus. Cause obviously the economy in the United States shut down in large part in March and April when we were first getting a handle on the virus, but also that we needed a way to address the racial inequality that’s persistent in our culture and in our politics, but also in our economy and even in the clean energy economy. Cause one of the things we’ve learned unfortunately, is that even in things like solar, which is relatively new, that when you account for income and home ownership, Black folks and Brown folks are still less likely to have solar than white folks are. That we had, there’s a need to address that as well. Uh, and so I think that’s what I found really appealing about this idea of a climate change response focused on solar rooftops was, now we can talk about how it might make a difference in people’s lives specifically. So yeah, I was wondering Katie, can you talk a little bit more about sort of in the design of the program?
Katie Kienbaum I think we’re talking about kind of in our project work right now, we’re talking about this idea of buckets – like buckets of different or different categories of folks that we’re trying to reach, who are the people that we’re trying to target with this program that really connects these three different, very large issues of racial inequality, the economy and the climate. I’d say probably our largest goal in terms of this project, this proposal, really is to try to target rooftop solar deployment to low and moderate income households, particularly Black and Brown households, that’s really where we think this type of project can have the largest impact, both in terms of reducing energy bills for those folks and creating new jobs in those communities. And perhaps, you know, in areas that have been impacted by like say a coal burning power plant, you know, that kind of reducing that kind of reliance on those things can really improve local public health and decreased respiratory issues. So that’s, that’s the largest population that we are really targeting, but we also want to ensure that we are including community institutions in those communities. So maybe the local library or a local nonprofit, small locally owned businesses, these other important pillars of the community that provide a lot of support for folks. And that also have a really strong role within that local economy and providing opportunities for folks there in that area. Uh, those are some of the main buckets, you know, we’re also thinking about how we can specifically target rural businesses and farms or communities in tribal lands, or, you know, what about more moderate income folks, which, you know, are still often burdened by higher energy bills and inefficient housing. So those are the main buckets I think we’re looking at.
John Farrell Yeah. I think one of the things that’s been really interesting in trying to identify like what will have the biggest bang for the buck. There’s not only some of these racial disparities and access to things like clean energy, but there’s also a recognition that we can do a lot more to help individuals and the economy by targeting folks at this level. I saw another study, for example, I wish I could remember the source, but it talked about the level of energy burden in minority households compared to white households and found that even when you controlled for income and other things that minority households paid more for their energy bills, their energy bills were higher. So minority households are less likely to live in affluent neighborhoods are less likely to live in neighborhoods where the housing stock is in, is in good shape, has been well maintained because of this history of redlining and racial discrimination. And so we can actually do a lot more for those households individually by doing, focusing our solar investments or energy efficiency investments in those communities. But also as the spillover effects, just with the economy in general, which is the U.S. economy runs on consumer spending and the people who are most likely to spend money are the folks who don’t really have any to start with, because they’re already have many things that they’re having to make tough choices about. I just think about like the, the solar for all program in Washington, DC, for example, talked about, we can’t even count on having wifi to track the solar production in these projects built for low-income households because they might’ve had to choose not to pay for their broadband internet access at home in order to pay their cellular telephone bill or to buy food. And so we have this really, I think sort of doubly powerful way of stimulating the economy, not just like spending money to help people go solar in general, but also focus that in communities where those dollars are going to turn around and invest back in the economy a lot more than they might otherwise. Katie, I was hoping you could share a little bit about, so this project that we’re working on around 30 million solar rooftop, it’s not just a concept, it’s actually some funded work, a program of ILSR, but we have a number of partners that are working with us on it. And I was hoping you could just describe maybe just the folks that we’re sort of connected with in the research, but also some of the like broader efforts to bring in stakeholders into the conversation about how this kind of program might work.
Katie Kienbaum One of the main groups that we’ve been working with is Solar United Neighbors. They are the group that was responsible for the Solar for All program in Washington, DC, that John mentioned, we’ve been partnering with them closely on this project. They’ve been very helpful connecting all the different folks. They have a national network of solar owners. Another group we’ve been working with is the Initiative for Energy Justice and the Initiative for Energy Justice has been helping us bring an equity minded framework to this conversation and to the different policy proposals we’re thinking about considering and ensuring that we’re keeping equity at the forefront and not getting lost and just trying to get to that 30 million solar number. We don’t want to lose who we’re actually trying to benefit the most on our way. There, we are also working with Jason Edens, who I believe John has worked with before. If you want to say a few words about Jason, John.
John Farrell Yeah, Jason is really remarkable. He for 20 years led the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance based here in Minnesota, in Northern Minnesota. And they have been doing and are doing a lot of work on finding ways to help bring solar to low income communities, rural communities, and tribal lands. And so he has some great perspective on how federal assistance programs, like they’re called LIHEAP, low-income heating and energy assistance programs that how those programs, you know, send billions of dollars every year to help pay energy bills for Americans to make sure they can afford heating and cooling. But those monies can actually be used in some ways more effectively if we help folks install energy generation systems that can pay their bills in perpetuity. So it’s great organization. Jason’s no longer affiliated with them, but brings that wealth of experience.
Katie Kienbaum Another organization, World Resources Institute, which has a long history of experience and technical knowledge on these issues is helping advise on this project as well. So we really appreciate the analysis that they’re able to help us with.
John Farrell We’re going to take a short break. When we come back, we talk more about what we’re trying to learn in our research, how the election might impact the prospects, and why we’re so focused on rooftops instead of just gigawatts. You’re listening to a Local Energy Rules discussion between John Farrell and Katie Kienbaum of the Energy Democracy team at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.


John Farrell Let’s talk a little bit about kind of what the program research looks like. So we, you know, we have this idea that we’ve seeded out in the world, 30 million solar rooftops. What is it that we’re trying to research? What are we trying to find out about doing 30 million solar rooftops?
Katie Kienbaum So the federal government, in addition to state and local governments, already does quite a lot to try to invest and support, uh, solar deployment or related things. So our first thought has been to try and leverage existing programs and see where we can make tweaks or just grow the size of successful programs to help get us towards this goal of 30 million solar rooftops. So that’s kind of been where we’ve been starting, like looking at programs like John mentioned, like low-income energy assistance or the LIHEAP program, and seeing maybe how that program can be changed or expanded or tweaked to enable investment in local solar deployment in rooftop solar, maybe community solar as well. So that’s been a lot of where we’re starting our research because if we have successful programs, you know, it doesn’t necessarily make the most sense to create new ones when we have all these existing ways of reaching the communities that we’re most concerned about and that we would like to serve with this proposal.
John Farrell And I know one of the, you know, one of the pieces too, is kind of thinking about sort of the federal government’s flagship policy around solar and other renewable energy is the what’s called the investment tax credit. So I think it’s 26% this year and scheduled to phase out. And you can give someone who has the money up front to do solar an opportunity to get some of that money on their tax bill over a few subsequent years. What are folks that are working on this project talking about doing that would help that particular incentive be more useful to a broader swath of Americans?
Katie Kienbaum There are a few here, the first and probably the most, I don’t want to say basic, but the most obvious would be to extend that credit. So it doesn’t expire for residents next year. That’s one option, is just a restoring the tax credit to it was 26% for this year previously it was 30%. So expanding the credit to 30% and extending it for another five years to stimulate more solar deployment by folks that have some of that upfront money and are more able to afford it, especially once you actually throw in that sizable tax credit, that’s one option. Another important way we can address that is by converting the tax credit to a cash grant right now. With the tax credit, there are a couple issues that make it not as beneficial to some of the folks that could most benefit from it. For instance, nonprofits or governments, municipalities cannot benefit from the tax credit because they don’t have any tax liability. So they aren’t able to actually, you know, invest in their own solar system and benefit from that tax credit. So converting to a cash grant for that would benefit those institutions. Converting to a cash grant from a tax credit would also benefit low-income households more, or households with low tax liabilities, because the credit is not refundable. So if you have little or low tax liability, you don’t owe the federal government taxes because of your income or other reasons, then you don’t benefit at all from the tax credit. So converting to a cash grant would solve some of those problems and make it more beneficial to more people, especially the folks that would really stand to benefit the most from some of these investments.
John Farrell So at some point we’re going to have a website up where folks can sign up to learn more, can even sign a petition to support the idea of doing 30 million solar rooftops. So we’ll send some information out in a subsequent podcast to, with a little more detail on that for folks that are curious. You’re always welcome to look us up on our website though. And if you have some great ideas for how you think the government can leverage its current programs or particularly interesting ways that you’ve heard of that folks are reaching low-income folks and communities of color with solar, we’d love to hear it and feel free to shoot us an email. I want to pivot a little bit Katie, because we started this off by talking about the election. And this is kind of like our big baby that we’re shepherding through this process, that’s going to overlap this period of the Trump administration and then a different administration or the same administration. We don’t know, we’re a day after the election when this is published and maybe it’s already really clear that there’s going to be a continuation or a switch, but we don’t know what that might look like. I guess maybe my question to you would just be off the cuff, when you look at either a Biden administration or a Trump administration, what do you think the odds are for this conversation of 30 million solar rooftops with either one of them?
Katie Kienbaum So I think we’ve already seen that Biden, if he is elected is willing to commit to broader efforts to curb climate change then I think we’ve ever seen before, perhaps from a president, a sitting president, would you say that’s true? I feel like it’s true.
John Farrell I mean, when I read on the Twitters, if you will, and in social media with a lot of other smart people, the folks who I follow and who seemed to care and about and know a lot about climate policy indicate that Biden is the most progressive candidate that has a major party presidential nominee. Certainly
Katie Kienbaum I feel like he would definitely be the most progressive president too. I mean, we only have a few people to choose from that weren’t Republicans, since the climate change issue, it really entered the national stage. So I think there is really an opportunity to have a conversation about this proposal of 30 million solar rooftops. If there is a fight in administration, especially if Democrats, you know, maybe gain a majority in the Senate or we’ll see, we’ll see what happens. But I think there’s definitely opportunity there. I think with a Trump administration, the path is a little less clear mostly because I I’m concerned about whether this will be a priority for that administration. I’m not sure it would be necessarily something that’s stridently opposed. I don’t think it’s, I just, it’s not a hotline issue I see from a Trump administration in any way, especially with, you know, a history of climate denialism and a really shaky process over the last few months in trying to get to a second stimulus bill. I think that’s where it stands. It’s not dead in the water with the Trump administration, but I have a lot more hope for a more concerted push for a 30 million solar goal with Biden in the White House.
John Farrell Yeah. I have to confess that I’m sort of conflicted. I just saw on Twitter today that Jonathan Scott, he’s one of the property brothers. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched his show with like the remodels of different houses. I’ve watched a few episodes a couple of years ago, and I’m not so much into that. My wife…
Katie Kienbaum Don’t lie to us, John, we know you watch it every night.
John Farrell Absolutely. I would actually say I, it’s funny that I don’t enjoy those as much. I do like doing my own home remodel stuff, but don’t… but anyway, getting beyond my preferences for television, what I thought it was really interesting is that he has actually done a documentary with PBS that he’s going to be releasing in about a month that talks about solar. It’s clear from the preview that he had encountered a lot of problems trying to help homeowners consider doing solar in the remodel work that he was doing. And he suggests in there essentially that even though there is really wide bipartisan support for solar, he has in the, in the preview, some interviews with some very prominent conservatives talking about how solar is a really exciting technology for them around energy independence and energy self-reliance, that utility companies and, and whatnot have their kind of hands in the pockets of legislators or have legislators in their pockets, I guess I should say, that to make rules that have made it really tough for solar, even though there’s this widespread support. And so I look at something like that and wonder, Oh, I, you know, maybe any Trump administration, the Trump administration, you know, with Republicans in charge or a Biden administration with Democrats in charge would be really excited about solar because it has this broad appeal on fairly universal terms that folks care about clean energy and folks care about a chance to cut their own energy bills. And also one of the things I found sort of interestingly, stronger from the conservatives than often from the progressives around this issue is kind of a chance to like cut the cord and get away from the monopoly utility company. And, and that, that dislike, if you will, for someone controlling or preventing you from having choice would be something that would be pretty positive.

On the other hand, I also saw it in my Twitter feed in the last 24 hours some really great investigative reporting on the current department of energy. So the Trump administration is essentially under cutting a lot of existing federal programs to support clean energy by using the political appointees to slow down research, to withhold funds that had already been appropriated by Congress, and a lot of other issues. And that makes me worry that even though there is this broad popular support, and even then, even though for example, the last extension of the solar tax credit was bi-partisan, that it will be very difficult under a Trump administration to be successful at using the federal government to encourage 30 million solar rooftops to happen, because there’s so much use of the federal apparatus right now to sort of undercut even the express wishes of Congress and of the American people. And obviously we see that sort of broader in the politics right now, too, in a lot of different ways. So I don’t know, I’m conflicted. I’m really hopeful that no matter what the result was yesterday or that we’re still counting for this election, that we have some, a good prospect for how solar could advance. But I think unfortunately, the evidence suggests that it will be challenging even though there is broad political support for solar.

Katie Kienbaum So John you’re, you’re really the inspiration behind this whole operation. Why did you want to propose this as 30 million solar rooftops instead of, you know, 150 gigawatts of new solar or having this more general frame on the proposal?
John Farrell Yeah. Well, thank you for that excellent softball question, Katie. I actually think this is, I mean, it’s, it’s funny because obviously as the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, this is kind of like a mission driven perspective for us. We would support distributed solar for a lot of different reasons that have more to do with how communities have self-determination or how communities can make their own choices, regardless of some of the broader impacts. But I think actually here that the evidence suggests that this is a really important approach for a lot of different reasons. You know, I’ll circle back to that Jonathan Scott documentary that’s coming out, he talks about kind of uncovering this culture of corruption in utility companies and in government regulation of utility companies that has to do with them monopoly control that we largely have in our electricity system. You know, it’s our electricity market, if you will, which is, uh, you know, I use that term very loosely is probably among the least competitive markets we have in our country other than maybe like municipal water supplies or garbage or something like that, or, or public roads. And, but yet, it’s mostly private companies that control it, not public ones.

And so we’re, it’s sort of this really odd system in which, in order to avoid building multiple electricity grids a hundred years ago, which made perfect sense at the time, we’ve preserved these monopolies that don’t really have monopoly characteristics anymore. Like we don’t need to build another grid. We certainly need to keep and maintain the one we have, but the transformation for the future in the next decade or two decades is about how do we change the energy sources that are connected to that grid or the energy uses that are connected to that grid. So solar energy and wind energy production on the generation side and electric vehicles and heat pumps and things like that on the use side. And none of that requires a monopoly utility. Like those are competitive markets, those are competitive resources. And so I think what’s exciting about 30 million solar rooftops, specifically, is that it is really leading into that fact that this should be a competitive marketplace for power generation and anybody in the United States should be able to participate in it, because anybody who has a sunny rooftop should be able to use it and capture that energy that falls on their, on their property. I think it’s a really basic kind of American thing to say, I’m going to use the resources that are on my property to better my life and even better my community. So I think that’s a really important piece of it, is just sort of in principle challenging that monopoly structure that is inherently not American.

Also we, a lot of evidence that the economic impact is far, far larger if we invest in solar in a distributed fashion. I saw this filing in some regulatory work we were doing in Minnesota lately, Xcel energy is proposing some COVID related economic stimulus. They are prompted by the state regulators to come up with ways in which they could do basically stuff they’d already proposed, but do it faster to help the economy. And there were two big components in their solar proposal. One was let’s build like 400, a 400 megawatt utility scale solar array that they already had planned, which I think is great. I’m glad they’re going to do it. And then the other one was something like serve 90 low-income households with solar by having the utility own the solar on the customer rooftops, which is an example of a monopoly kind of encroaching on what is currently a competitive market… So without going too far into that, though, what they reported in their filing that I think is so important and really illustrates the opportunity here is that for every million dollars you spend on rooftop, solar, you create 12 times more jobs than you do when you spend a million dollars on a utility scale solar arrays, and these are good paying jobs, you know, 15, 20, 25 bucks an hour installing solar arrays. So if we can employ 12 times more people to do the same amount of solar, that is really meaningful in a time when an unprecedented number of Americans are out of jobs. And so I think there’s some really important principles about like independence and competition at stake, but also just the practicality of like, we want to put people to work and widely distributed the economic benefits of what we’re doing. We should do distributed solar. And then even on top of that, all those distributed solar rays help reduce the electric bills for the people who have them. And so if we, as we want to focus on, you know, historically vulnerable populations, folks in rural areas who have struggled with energy, poverty, you know, folks on tribal lands who have been underserved because the government has done a poor job of, of managing and allowing tribes to access and use their resources, low income folks in urban areas, Black and Brown communities that have been punishingly located next to polluting resources. All of those things can be a huge benefit. And so I see rooftop solar as a way to address a lot of other social ills at the same time that we deploy that 150 gigawatts of solar. And so to me, that’s the exciting thing about the proposal, as you can tell, cause I get very excited talking about it.

Katie Kienbaum Oh, we’re, we’re excited to hear about it. I think like you mentioned last, that connection to trying to ensure that the benefits are shared more equitably than they have been in the past is a really essential part of the conversation about why it’s 30 million rooftops instead of 150 gigawatts.
John Farrell Well, Katie, I think we’ll leave it there and just say to folks who are listening, if you’re interested in this, please reach out. We’re excited to be building engagement and building the research to outline and to fill in some of the details about this proposal for 30 million rooftops. And we’re really hopeful that no matter what happened on election day yesterday, and election month coming, coming up, that we’ll have a federal administration that’s willing to support a really powerful tool for economic stimulus, for addressing inequality, and for addressing climate change. So thanks for joining Katie.
Katie Kienbaum Thanks for having me on, John
John Farrell Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Local Energy Rules for a discussion about the prospects for the 30 million solar rooftop program after the 2020 election. On the show page, look for links to an overview of the 30 million solar rooftop project. On our website, you can also find our community power map showing what States can do to support distributed solar future and an interactive community power toolkit for stories on how cities have advanced local clean energy. Local Energy Rules is produced by myself and Maria McCoy, with editing provided by audio engineer Drew Birschbach. Tune back into Local Energy Rules every two weeks to hear more powerful stories of communities taking on concentrated power to transform the energy system. Until next time, keep your energy local and thanks for listening.

What is the 30 Million Solar Rooftop Proposal?

ILSR and several partners have a proposal to deploy the equivalent of 30 million solar rooftops as a federal stimulus. On October 27th, one week before the general election, Farrell and Kienbaum discussed the proposal and its prospects in 2021.

A 30 million solar rooftop stimulus would address the COVID-19 induced economic crisis, the climate crisis, and the crisis of racial inequality. How does the proposal address these three crises? Kienbaum says that the primary goal is to deploy rooftop solar on low-income, Black, and Brown households. These individuals face the most barriers to solar: low-income households do not have the capital to install solar panels. Black and Brown households are underrepresented in solar ownership, even when accounting for factors like income and home ownership.

Solar energy deployment will then spur energy justice. These are communities that have been “punishingly located next to polluting resources,” says Farell. Solar can replace dirty, polluting energy generation and improve local health. Beyond righting environmental wrongs, rooftop solar deployment lessens economic inequality by reducing the energy burden on these communities. Plus, distributed solar has a greater economic impact: Farrell says that in Minnesota, investing in rooftop solar rather than utility-scale solar creates 12 times more jobs.

We needed a way to address the racial inequality that’s persistent in our culture and in our politics, but also in our economy and even in the clean energy economy.

– John Farrell

There is an additional opportunity, says Kienbaum, to deploy solar on community institutions like nonprofits, libraries, and local businesses. Kienbaum also mentions a need for solar in rural communities and on tribal lands.

Outside Partners and Stakeholders

Farrell wrote a blog post about the proposal in April 2020. Since, many partners and stakeholders have joined ILSR to research and develop a fully-fledged proposal. One of these partners is Solar United Neighbors (SUN), a national group that was behind the successful D.C. Solar for All program.

Listen to this 2018 interview with Executive Director Anya Schoolman to learn more about Solar United Neighbors.

Another partner is the Initiative for Energy Justice, to which Kienbaum attributes keeping equity at the forefront of the research process and stimulus proposal development.

“We don’t want to lose who we’re actually trying to benefit the most on our way.”

– Katie Kienbaum

Jason Edens, former director of the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, brings ideas on how to use the federal Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help households generate their own electricity, rather than helping them buy electricity from the utility.

The World Resources Institute is providing technical knowledge and analysis to assist the project partners.

Post-Election Prospects

After discussing the proposal, Farrell and Kienbaum get into its political potential. Though the results of the Nov. 3 election are still unclear, the 2021 presidential administration will determine what route the proposal must take.

Kienbaum believes that Joe Biden has a stronger commitment to climate policy and that a Biden administration provides a strong opportunity for the 30 Million Solar Rooftops stimulus. A Trump administration may not necessarily be opposed, she says, but solar would not be the first tool for economic recovery. Kienbaum cites the administration’s climate denialism and the lack of a second stimulus bill.

It’s not dead in the water with the Trump administration, but I have a lot more hope for a more concerted push for a 30 million solar goal with Biden in the White House.

– Katie Kienbaum

Farrell draws attention to the bipartisan appeal of solar, as seen in Jonathan Scott’s upcoming documentary, but worries that utilities and regulators pose a barrier to solar as well. Given either outcome, passing a solar stimulus will be a challenge – but a challenge that ILSR and its partners are ready to take on.

We’re really hopeful that no matter what happened on election day yesterday, and election month coming up, that we’ll have a federal administration that’s willing to support a really powerful tool for economic stimulus, for addressing inequality, and for addressing climate change.

– John Farrell

Episode Notes

See these resources for more behind the story:

  • Read John Farrell’s April 2020 proposal for 30 million solar rooftops in this blog post.
  • Hear Farrell and the Initiative for Energy Justice Co-Founder/Co-Director Shalanda Baker present this proposal for 30 million solar rooftops to the National Solar Congress

For concrete examples of how cities can take action toward gaining more control over their clean energy future, explore ILSR’s Community Power Toolkit.

Explore local and state policies and programs that help advance clean energy goals across the country, using ILSR’s interactive Community Power Map.

This is episode 113 of Local Energy Rules, an ILSR podcast with Energy Democracy Director John Farrell, which shares powerful stories of successful local renewable energy and exposes the policy and practical barriers to its expansion.

Local Energy Rules is Produced by ILSR’s John Farrell and Maria McCoy. Audio engineering by Drew Birschbach.

This article originally posted at For timely updates, follow John Farrell on Twitter, our energy work on Facebook, or sign up to get the Energy Democracy weekly update

Featured Photo Credit: Northeast Wisconsin Technical College via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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Maria McCoy is a Researcher with the Energy Democracy Initiative. In this role, she contributes to blog posts, podcasts, video content, and interactive features.