If you’re reading energy news of late, you might have come across three new ways that forces are aligning against local renewable energy. State governments are increasingly pre-empting local authority on a range of issues, including energy. Utility companies are undercutting state regulation with their legislative lobbyists. And utilities are also bringing their monopoly market power to bear in previously competitive markets.
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About John Farrell
John Farrell directs the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he develops tools that allow communities to take charge of their energy future, and pursue the maximum economic benefits of the transition to 100% renewable power. More
Update November 2016: From now on, we’ll keep the most recent data on the program’s development in this post I’ve been asked a lot of questions about Minnesota’s community solar program over the past couple years and it’s time to make one thing clear: Minnesota’s program is the best in the country. Why? Because there… Continue reading
As an increasing number of cities across the U.S. pledge their commitment to purchase 100% of their power from renewable sources in the coming decades, some researchers questioned the feasibility of such energy policies. One recent 100% study takes the position that it is impractical for the continental U.S. to commit to 100% water, wind,… Continue reading
The U.S. vehicle market will undergo a massive technology disruption from electric vehicles in the coming decades. Many analysts see the potential for surging sales of these efficient vehicles to enable smart grid management, but few have explored the local impact of electric vehicles: promoting energy democracy. Electric vehicles offer a natural use for solar energy, a pathway to pump more local solar power onto the grid, and a source of resilient power when the grid goes down. Ultimately, electric vehicles are another tool to miniaturize the electricity system, providing unprecedented local control.
Yesterday’s news about the Paris Climate Accords has provoked a groundswell of commitments for local action on climate change. But what can cities actually do in the absence of federal support? A lot. In fact, with the help of states, cities have many avenues to boost their economies and drive down energy costs with local… Continue reading
In recent months, a raft of cities and states pushed up their renewable energy targets to 50%, 80%, or even 100%. But how will that energy be delivered? Will it be from the top down, by merchant wind and solar power plants? Or from the bottom up, by customers producing their own power? The answer… Continue reading
With nearly 1500 megawatts, Massachusetts has the seventh-greatest solar energy capacity in the country, enough to power a quarter-million homes. It has the second-most solar jobs, with over 14,500. Already in a leading position, Massachusetts in January developed a new incentive program to double its solar capacity to over 3 gigawatts. It’s a fascinating blast… Continue reading
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… Continue reading
It’s simple to promote solar power as a money saver and clean alternative to fossil fuel generation. But it sells solar short to focus only on savings, when it also gives Americans the freedom to generate their own energy and to challenge the economic and political power of big corporations. Individual Freedom If individuals want… Continue reading
Last summer I saw a presentation on “deep decarbonization” that outlined necessary changes in the U.S. economy in order to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The presentation was fascinating, offering some very specific elements to focus our attention. For example, the following graphic shows the average number of replacements for various infrastructure types prior to… Continue reading