Voices of 100%: Pandemic Pauses Clean Energy Planning in Georgia

Date: 20 May 2020 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

With city and state budgets stretched to their limits, families struggling to stay afloat, and one all-absorbing crisis on everyone’s mind, can clean energy planning proceed in a pandemic?

For this episode of our Voices of 100% series of the Local Energy Rules Podcast, host John Farrell speaks with Charles Utley, Associate Director of Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. With 50 years of grassroots organizing behind him, Utley spearheaded the campaign to commit Augusta, Ga., to 100% clean energy by 2050. Utley talks about his introduction to the zero waste movement, how he convinced the city commission to commit to 100%, and the effects of a global pandemic on city energy planning.

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

Charles Utley And we have to be honest, with yourselves and ask yourself the question, are we doing justice, or an injustice to the future? And once you can answer that with an honest heart, mind, that what I’m doing is to make sure that the next generation has the opportunity to have the things that they deserve. Once you make that decision, and then you’re gonna really have to make a commitment.
John Farrell Nestled on the Savannah River on the Eastern border of Georgia, Augusta has joined over 100 U.S. cities with its commitment to 100% renewable electricity. While the city’s efforts have, like many others, been slowed by the Corona virus epidemic, the community has been planning for its clean energy future in earnest. In this episode recorded in April, 2020, I’m joined by Charles Utley, associate director of Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, who explains how his 50 year history fighting pollution brought him to leadership in the city’s clean energy future. I’m John Farrell, director of the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and this is our special Voices of 100 series focused on local leaders and their pursuit of 100% renewable energy. It’s all part of Local Energy Rules, a biweekly podcast sharing powerful stories about local renewable energy. Charles, welcome to the program.
Charles Utley Thank you, John, for having me on your program this morning and I hope that information that we’ll share will enlighten others and will also help us. So thanks for the invitation.
John Farrell Oh, I’m so glad to have you. Charles, why don’t we start off by just talking about how Augusta came to make this commitment. So you know, the city’s commitment, I think was a couple of years ago, if I recall correctly. What was the motivation? Who was working on this? How did the city end up making this one hundred percent renewable energy commitment?
Charles Utley Well, it was a project that stemmed from another project that I was working on with the Hyde Park and Aragon Park Improvement Committee, a neighborhood where I grew up at that became contaminated from various sources and no one wanted to take responsibility for it. So I got involved with this back in the early seventies on my own, through the president until we were able to get the entire neighborhood relocated. So about 150 families were relocated and it was due primarily because of the amount of contamination and there was no one taking responsibility. And I thought if we could do something to enlighten everyone on the importance of having a climate that was, we could say free of contamination or seeking to be free, and at the same time in our area was Southern Company whose Plant Vogtle, the first nuclear plant in modern times here in our area.

And we were talking about keeping the environment clean and we yet we were looking at how can we stop this potential polluter from moving forward with a new nuclear plant making it for now in our area, there were already two in the area and they were building an additional two. So it stemmed from that. If we could just go ahead and make our community a zero waste, and I’d heard about your other programs, your program and programs in other cities. And if they were able to do it maybe just more than myself and more than Blue Ridge, more than Shell Bluff community where it was located, we could reach out and get more organizational people involved. Talking about like the kind of government, the school board, the transportation, the kind of commissions, all of these entities would help power our source of gaining zero waste. And I was interested in it and what I did, I was able to gather the information from people like yourselves and from Louis Zeller, with Blue Ridge Environment Defense League. And he and I began to piece together a project that we thought had to do with a long range gaining, but at the same time some present things that could be done at the present time. So that’s kind of how we got started with it.

John Farrell You know, this is an incredible history cause you’re talking about almost 50 years of working on, trying to mitigate pollution, trying to address waste, trying to deal with clean energy. So thank you very much for sharing about that. In the past couple of years when you got to the point where the city was going to consider making this a formal commitment, how did those kinds of things come together? Was it, were you having meetings with elected officials? Was there any kind of public action or protest or anything like that? What was the process by which the city ended up actually making that formal commitment?
Charles Utley Well, what the approach was I made an appeal to the Richmond County commissions who oversees the, the area with a proposal that, we needed to get on board with renewable energy and be a leader instead of a follower in it. And so I approached some of the commissioners in particular, the one that’s in my area, I’ve known him for quite some time. He was interested in what we were doing in Hyde Park when we did that project. He was not a commissioner during that time, of course, but, he knew about it. So I approached him and asked, Ben Hasan, which is his name, I asked him would he work with me and making a presentation before they county commissions and I would be able to present what I had in mind, which was what I’ve seen. And that was the long range, 2050.

And that’s how I got started by communicating with the local area commissioners. And then from there, I was asked to make a presentation before the board and then that presentation I, I was able to show them the difference between not having a zero waste plan opposed to having one. And one time they asked me, the county commissioners asked me, would you consider others to join in with you? Which is the reason I was there. I told him sure, quite naturally, love to have your help. So they charged me with pulling together all of the parties that would be involved in it. And what I did, I reached out to Paine College and I also reached out to Augusta State University and to get them involved with our project. And as a result I was able to talk with the president of Paine College who in return was able to help me with an intern student.

And as part of working and pulling it together, since I worked with the Richmond County Board of Education is where I originally retired from. I asked them to work with me on it and met with superintendent. So I made a team, basically what I’m saying, I made a team of those including the engineering department, where I was able to meet with them. And some of this came from previous history because the engineering department was one of the entities that worked with me and, and created a bronze field site for Hyde Park and Hameed Malik was, one of the leaders and helping me to pull that together along with John Rosenthal and with Melissa Checker. But all of these entities had given me an idea that if we could pull that together, we should be able to pull a zero waste together. And meeting with the board of education, I have some private meetings with him and who made a commitment to us that they would support the zero waste. And in return I had to make that report back to the commissioners showing them that I had the support of the other agencies. So that’s kinda how we went before the board.

And they had to go through the required number of clearance, the reading to be approved. But I must say that after I made a presentation that there was things that they wanted me to clarify and that was, you know, what did I mean by, for an example, the factories that burn fuel, opposed to non-fuel burning or how, how was I going to justify, in other words, why am I saying that nuclear energy need to be looked at a different way and turn into renewable energy? What was my proof of that? Those were the types of things that I had to pull together in order to get the approval of the county commissions. And they did. After the, I think that third reading, our question was answered and our questions were taken care of and they approved 100%. There were no one who had any questions about it except, how was we going to pull it together? And that’s the thing that we are presently still working on. I would say meeting some glitches because with what’s going on with pandemic has caused us to kind of back away. But not in not doing it, but the idea is how do we keep doing it and not be able to meet? But one thing I’m glad to be able to say that the Board of Education and it’s new design and it’s new school buildings have implemented a lot of the things that we talked about. There are some solar panels for example, that’s going into construction on the new schools and those types of things. The type of windows that are being put here, all of these things were part of it. And we’re looking at how can we save on, which is the highest thing the city’s has, is its utilities. What are we doing with the street lights? And so these are things that are slowly being turned to renewable energy, but to convince them that the cost of making them renewable over the cost of what they’re paying now is slowly coming across. Because at times they receive some astronomical bills from Georgia Power, to the point about a million dollars. And there’s those that don’t want us to, Plant Vogtle, And I’m telling you why you trying to justify not changing from a nuclear power and doing solar power, you will be saving the money that you put in these power companies. You could be putting it in your lighting and which is doubling the cost. What I mean by doubling the cost, because we are charged in the state of Georgia for the power that is being generated by Georgia Power according to the Senate. Well not only am I paying for it that way, I get a bill. It might also, and not all of them are paying for that way. I pay school taxes and the school taxes, I’m paying that same bill. It’s a double burden on the taxpayers. So I’m saying this, let us at least cut some slack to the taxpayer and give them an opportunity to have something that they can look forward to in the next 50 years and have an intermediate 30 years. And so that’s the kind of approach that we use and working with it, trying to get this 2050 approval through the Richmond County Board of Education and to the Richmond County Commissioners and I, and I must say that it has raised some interest in some other fields where in a landfill, double checking how that has been handled and there, to tell you the truth, John, they had a fine posed to them if they didn’t do some because they have some problems at the landfill problems that we had reminded them that we would be watching also, which was to make sure that things that entered into the landfill were things that could be either recycled or things that could not have to be put in there in a landfill because we wouldn’t receive it and not receive something that was not in a state where it could be recycled or it will be reusable.

And one of the long range goals is, I feel that the next thing would be is to fold in the students, because you have people who are older, ‘I’m not going to recycle that don’t make no sense.’ But if I can get a child that lives in that house now, ‘we’re not going to do that. Let us do this.’ So my next approach is to go through the school board to get through, the key is to help. The key is to start a recycling program. And I feel that if the child is interested in it, you love your children, you’re going to help them out. So I’m kind of going around around it in order to get it accomplished. So that’s kind of where I am, to give you a rough idea.

John Farrell I think that it’s really helpful to have that context, because I think so many of the cities that are making these commitments are thinking about energy as sort of something all by itself. And I think it’s useful in the way that you’re talking about it. Explaining to folks that, you know, you came at this perspective from your experience in these neighborhoods that were heavily polluted by a lot of dirty energy and we’re thinking about reducing waste, not just from the energy sector, a waste that was very polluting but solid waste as well and thinking about recycling and composting and other ways. So I, I certainly from our perspective, it all ties together. That’s why we work in these different areas, but I think it’s helpful for people to hear that folks who are out there working in their communities are also approaching it this way and realizing there are these interconnected issues.

We’re going to take a short break. When we come back, I ask if Georgia Power has been a partner in the community’s clean energy efforts, how they’re thinking about equity for communities of color and low income residents, and what advice Charles has for other communities pursuing 100% renewable energy. You’re listening to Local Energy Rules from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

John Farrell Hey, thanks for listening to Local Energy Rules. If you’ve made it this far, you’re obviously a fan and we could use your help for just two minutes. As you’ve probably noticed, we don’t have any corporate sponsors or ads for any of our podcasts. The reason is that our mission at ILSR is to reinvigorate democracy by decentralizing economic power. Instead, we rely on you, our listeners. Your donations not only underwrite this podcast, but also help us produce all of the research and resources that we make available on our website and all of the technical assistance we provide to grassroots organizations every year. Each year, our small staff helps hundreds of communities challenge monopoly power directly and rebuild their local economies. So please take a minute and go to Ilsr.org and click on the donate button. And if making a donation isn’t something you can do, please consider helping us in other ways. You can help other folks find this podcast by telling them about it or by giving it a review on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. The more ratings from listeners like you, the more folks can find this podcast and ILSR’s other podcasts: Community Broadband Bits and Building Local Power. Thanks again for listening. Now, back to the program.
John Farrell I wanted to ask you just real quick about, you mentioned Georgia Power a couple of times in this and the challenge of having high energy bills, their investment in the Vogtle nuclear power plant. Have there been conversations between your community and Georgia Power about how they might help with this goal in terms of getting to clean energy? As I understand it, they’re still investing money in this nuclear power plant, right? It’s not, It hasn’t been going well, but I think they are. If I’m not mistaken, they’re still doing it.
Charles Utley They’re still doing it. But our project has influenced Georgia Power. But let me answer your first question. I do work with Georgia Power to an extent, where we also help them with their education program. They asked us to work with them and gaining scholarships, students that can get scholarships from them and as a result we are able to have some communications with them. Although they know a goal is for zero waste, 2050 goal. Georgia Power now began to buy up or rent other vacant spaces and they’re putting in their own solar panels. So to me, they are getting the building of the opportunity for plant three and four at the same time. They’re investing in solar energy. So to me, not only are they reaping the benefits from one, they’re going to reap the benefits from both, because they are still working on completing the plan, which is in the billions and trillions of dollars over. But the solar panels feels, because when you see one, I mean it’s acres of solar panels and they are owned by the plant, so how much influence they’re pull from it, I couldn’t say, but I would say it has made some energy changes in their thinking or has made them look at, wow, not only can we get this nuclear power, we can also get this solar power because they are making, they are, I’ve seen where they made some little things say that if you would like to have some energy from solar panels, then this is their formula. In other words, they’re making something available through solar panels also, so it will be a win-win situation for them, basically what I’m saying.
John Farrell Yeah. You had talked before, briefly, the pandemic has had some impact obviously on, and I’d, probably in every city that has been working on these climate and energy and waste issues just because it’s so all consuming in terms of the upheaval, not just in terms of how people can get together and meet, but also in terms of taking the attention of municipal staff and organizations in terms of their work and their focus, you know, how have things been going otherwise? I did, for example, a number of cities kind of put together an implementation plan after they adopted the goal and try to sort of put together a timeline about how they saw this community being able to achieve the goal. You mentioned some early things already that you know the schools are making investments in solar. The city’s doing some stuff about streetlights, are there more plans, kind of a things to do? Is that planning process still going on or, other efforts that the city and the community is taking to already advance toward this, this 2050 goal?
Charles Utley Well, actually they are still in the planning zone. I talked with the commissioners and they asked me to give them a little more time because of the pandemic and what was going on with them trying to their structure together and to make some changes within their own departments. So that’s kind of where they were going. They were focusing on departmental changes first and from departmental changes, would affect the whole outcome of the city. So each department is, through the County commissions, telling the County commission, I’ll be able to do this to reach our goal for 2030 and for 2050. I have not received that from the commissions yet, but I did call them prior to our meeting and due to the absence of being able to meet with them, they are doing it a virtual means. So they themselves are only handling the things that is, I would say on the hot instead of that was there on the back burner, and our project has for the most part been put on back burner because they’re trying to figure out how they’re going to handle the present contamination with the, with the virus. So we’re kinda in mud and just spinning our wheels for the time, but I hope they will grab a grip that we’ll be able to move forward starting with the departments and then through the entire city is the original approach. But to answer your question directly, has a timeframe and given to me, I’ll have to say no
John Farrell Okay. One of the things that we have asked a lot of folks who are working in other cities is about equity in particular. We’ve seen that the history of our energy system, which we’re now trying to transform from dirty sources into clean sources, is one in which people of color and low income folks have often paid the heaviest price, not just in terms of the dollars they pay for their energy bills, which have been very high, but also in terms of the pollution and I feel like you are well positioned to answer this question since you’ve been organizing around pollution issues for 50 years, back to the work that you were doing in Hyde Park. Is there a particular focus on, as you move toward these 2030 and 2050 goals, figuring out how to address some of these issues around equity in the future, making sure that energy is affordable, for example, or making sure that everybody, you know if there’s going to be deployment of solar on rooftops or something like that, that everybody has a chance to own a slice of that?
Charles Utley Well, we have it in our plans and what we’re doing now is asking for a relief for those that are, we call it getting a double dose. That is, they live near the facility and yet they are being polluted by it and which like you said, these are communities that are in close proximity. And so for the time being, we were able to work out with our group, which is the Shell Bluff Community Organization that, what we’re doing with that group is that we have made plans through Georgia Power to help us help those residents. What I mean by that, if we find those widows, those homes that are inadequate, what I mean windows not sealed and not sufficient, then we are asking them to our group, let us have the money to get these homes upgraded and fix them up so they would reap the benefits of having good energy. But you got to have a good home to keep the energy in. So we’re asking to let us do that as we move forward. And we have been doing that Shell Bluff area. It’s a low loan, but we usually try to match it in some form by raising funds and putting in into the homes and the area. And one thing about the young man that works with me on it, he’ll tell me all the time, I’m not a piecemeal guy. If it’s not going to be first class, we’re not going to touch it. I’m not going in and patch a roof when it needs to be replaced. It is because we’re defeating what our purpose is that makes sure that these homes are taken care of. A lot of them are widows and irrespectful were they white, black, Mexican? We don’t care what the base thing is. If we see a need, we try to take care of it so, and that perspective is what we’re working on and it has come to my knowledge sets the idea now for two services, as well as communicating, we don’t have the resources. What I mean by the resources, a lot of people in our area, even in our group, they don’t have cable. They don’t have DSL so why can’t we cut that and make it available? What we’re doing, all this hard technology where we’re building nuclear plants or where we have all these other things that are being put in areas at the cost of these individuals, and by the way the plant has notified others that some people working at the plant has been contaminated, which mean those are workers from their community so it’s all coming to life. What I’m hoping is that when the pandemic mask comes off that we would have looked at it and understand that we do need help, especially in making contact with those when such a thing as this comes up at, we can keep contact with them and they can contact us because now it’s a complete cut off.
John Farrell Yeah, I’m really glad you mentioned that. Our community broadband program has been talking a lot about the importance of internet connections for folks to participate in the economy for years and it’s just really striking how important that communication means has become now, when we’re not supposed to be talking to people in person and instead are trying to, you know, do video conversations or communicate over email or all these other electronic means. It’s been really important. One of the things that they’ve talked about a lot, I think that’s uplifting and it’s probably true in some places in your community, although not those served by Georgia Power. A lot of rural electric cooperatives have actually been making investments in broadband networks just because they already have this ethic of serving the community, the technical expertise, and they even have the financial ability to help serve customers there. So it’s been really interesting. Fascinating to hear you mention that as well, it just seems like there are so many different issues that this touches on and that one is, even when it’s been an issue for years, has obviously become a very critical issue now.
Charles Utley Absolutely, absolutely. So that’s kind of where we are and what we are that we have on the drawing boards to try to accomplish. And at the present time it’s the kind of build that communications, because we would normally have a meeting this Saturday but we won’t, it won’t be taking place. And that’s because of that location and that is near the rural area and that is one of the areas that we are still looking at it as cooperating into a zero waste because their community is a part of our zero waste project is also included.
John Farrell Charles, I wanted to wrap up by just asking you what advice you might have for folks working in other communities that don’t have this kind of zero waste or clean energy commitment. How do you get started? What, what advice do you have about how to get going and then how do you make sure that the planning process, as you say, once we take the mask off from the pandemic can move forward so that these goals can be accomplished?
Charles Utley Well, um, my advice to other communities is to first of all take a look around what’s taking place. And we have to be honest, which yourselves and ask yourself the question, are we doing justice or injustice to the future? And once you can answer that with an honest heart, mind, that what I’m doing is to make sure that the next generation had the opportunity to have the things that they deserve. Once you make that decision and then you’re gonna really have to make a commitment. You know, a lot of people make a commitment, but a lot of people don’t want to stick to the commitment. So making a commitment and sticking to the commitment is totally different. If you make a commitment, then you need to have the will and understanding that it’s not going to be an easy task. But I must stay to the course. And I always say once you get with me, once I get on a particular idea, I always see the advice. And my advice, I seek it through my faith and I ask for guidance. I do nothing of my own. And with that I tried to make sure that I don’t see individuals, I see the solution to the problem for the individuals. And I think if we look at that for our future, look at your neighborhoods, look at your cities and ask yourself the question, what can I do to improve our living condition? And if you can say nothing, then maybe you don’t have a problem, but it’s a place and it’s a time that I think everyone can look at and see that I can contribute something to the future, whether it’s the next 30 years or the next 50 years. But let us start now and be honest with ourselves and owned up to our faults and own up to the things that we need to start in today. Would be my advice.
John Farrell Well thank you so much for talking to me, Charles, and thank you for your time. I really appreciate it.
Charles Utley Thanks for the consideration and thanks for the call
John Farrell Thank you so much for listening to this episode of our Voices of 100% podcast series with Charles Utley, associate director of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League describing his work to promote 100% renewable energy in Augusta, Georgia. To learn about other cities pursuing 100% renewable energy, check out over a dozen additional Voices of 100% interviews, including leaders in Madison, Wisconsin, Cleveland, Ohio, or even Abita Springs, Louisiana. Check out Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign page to see more cities and their clean energy goals. Back on the website of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, you can also find the entire list of 100% cities on our community power map and click through an interactive community power toolkit for stories on how cities have advanced toward their goals. 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.

Founding a Clean Energy Movement in Anti-Pollution Advocacy

When Farrell asks Utley how the movement for a 100% renewable energy resolution got started, Utley takes it back to the 70s.

The Augusta neighborhood Utley grew up in, Hyde Park, was terribly polluted and did not receive public services, like water, streetlights, or a sewage system. Utley’s mother, Mary L. Utley, organized the community and spearheaded the fight for these basic necessities. By the mid 1970s, Utley’s mother had passed away and he took over the role of community president.

During that time, the neighboring (predominately white) community filed a class-action suit against Southern Wood Piedmont for the pollution their factory released into the area. Hyde Park residents were kept in the dark about the lawsuit. It wasn’t until 1991 that Hyde Park residents filed a similar class-action suit, which was dropped years later. Residents continued to organize and produce evidence of the ill-effects of regional pollution.

In 2016, the last residents of Hyde Park were ordered to leave. Despite the time that it took, Utley is proud that he and organizers were ultimately able to move their community to safer surroundings. All in all, 150 families had to make the move, says Utley.

Utley’s history of organizing for a safe, pollutant-free environment brought him to the idea of zero waste — which encompasses the pursuit of clean energy. He started reaching out to people outside of his neighborhood and began to work with the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.

Augusta County Commissioners Take the Leap

Utley had many connections with city officials, due to his extensive history of organizing. He decided to approach a county commissioner with the zero waste idea. He then presented his idea, setting a goal of 100% clean energy by 2050, to the board. 

The next step for Utley was gathering partners. To move the initiative forward, he worked with Augusta University and Paine College, which provided him some student interns. With these partners and some contacts from his Hyde Park organizing, including members of the board of education and the city engineering department, Utley had the momentum to get his resolution passed.

If we could pull [the Hyde Park relocation] together, we should be able to pull zero waste together.

In late 2018, the Augusta City Commission approved a resolution to set a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050. The city hopes to reach 80% renewable energy by 2030.

The Clean Energy Transition Gets Stuck in the Mud

Can a city’s pursuit of clean energy goals press on through a pandemic? Utley describes how Augusta’s timeline has been put on hold, for now. The city is still in the planning process and has its focus on departmental changes. Commissioners have asked Utley for more time to release a plan, in light of the global disaster.

Our project has for the most part been put on the back burner… So we’re kinda in mud and we’re just spinning our wheels for the time, but I hope they will grab a grip and we’ll be able to move forward.

Although the city is still working on an implementation plan, Utley describes initiatives that the board of education has already taken on. The city added solar panels to the construction of a new school, along with the most efficient windows. 

Thanks to these upgrades, Utley says that the city is finally realizing the cost-savings of a clean energy transition. Considering the “astronomical” cost of Georgia Power’s nuclear energy, clean energy produced by the city is a win-win for the taxpayer.

Working with Georgia Power

Utley’s next goal for the city? Bring in young people. Georgia Power helps with education programs and provides scholarships for students. While Utley believes adults will be reluctant to change their ways, children can be taught about recycling and clean energy. By starting with educational programs in the schools, parents may eventually be brought in as well.

If the child is interested in it, you love your children, you’re going to help them out.

Meeting the Needs of the Community

A focus for Utley is providing relief for those that are “getting a double dose.” This means communities affected by their close proximity to a nuclear plant, whose community members work in unsafe conditions at the plant, and like all residents of Augusta, who pay steep prices for nuclear power. 

Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, funded by Georgia Power, provides efficiency upgrades for these most affected communities. As Utley describes, this is done using a loan, but Blue Ridge often matches it with fundraising.

If we see a need, we try to take care of it.

Looking Forward

“When the mask comes off,” says Utley, Blue Ridge needs help communicating with residents in the vicinity of nuclear plants and the employees of these plants. Right now, many of these stakeholders are cut off from modes of communication. Their scheduled in-person meeting is not happening and it is not going online, because of poor access to the internet.

Read an updated ILSR report on how Cooperatives Fiberize Rural America

Despite this and other setbacks, Utley remains optimistic that Augusta will reach its long-term goal. For others considering the pursuit of 100% clean energy, he poses this question:

Are we doing justice or an injustice to the future?

Utley asks that everyone looks to what they can do to improve the living condition of their surroundings. He believes everyone can contribute to their community. 

… and if you make a commitment, stick to it.

Episode Notes

See these ILSR resources for more behind the story:

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 the 21st episode of our special  Voices of 100%series, and episode 104 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.

This article originally posted at ilsr.org. 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: Dizzy Girl via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Avatar photo
Follow Maria McCoy:
Maria McCoy

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