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About John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Self-Reliant States and Communities program at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he focuses on energy policy developments that best expand the benefits of local ownership and dispersed generation of renewable energy. More

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racial disparity in electric cooperatives thumb
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on May 23, 2016

Being Black Still a Barrier to Rural Cooperative Board Membership

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/being-black-still-a-barrier-to-rural-cooperative-board-membership/

In 1984, the New York Times ran a story highlighting the almost universally white boards of directors among 300 Southern electric cooperatives serving populations with thousands of African American member-owners: According to Oleta G. Fitzgerald, a staff lawyer with the [Southern Regional Council], a survey of 300 cooperatives in Southern states showed no more than… Continue reading

buy local sign - flickr Steve Garfield
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on May 20, 2016

Why Going Local Makes Sense for the Clean Energy Transition

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/why-going-local-makes-sense-for-the-clean-energy-transition/

This is a response to a Forbes commentary published last week, by Steve Cicala In his commentary last week, Steve Cicala fell into a common trap for economists analyzing the electricity system. Touting what economics calls competitive advantage, Mr Cicala suggests we pursue the lowest price by taking cheap solar electricity from the Southwest, wind… Continue reading

50 States of Solar Report - NC Clean Energy
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on May 16, 2016

Distributed Generation (Still) Under Fire

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/distributed-generation-still-under-fire/

We’ve been keeping a running tally of where distributed generation has come under attack, usually from incumbent utility companies, and displayed it in map format every few months. But the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center and Meister Consultants Group have done such a good job with their 50 States of Solar reports, that we’re… Continue reading

MN PUC
Featured Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on May 12, 2016

Not Just Illegal, Targeting Solar Facilities With Fees is Poor Policy

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/targeting-solar-facilities-with-fees/

Should utilities be able to add special fees on customers that have solar or small wind installations? Not only is it against Minnesota state law, but in our recent comments to the state’s Public Utilities Commission, we explain how one-off fees on customers using distributed generation to cut their energy consumption violates the spirit of… Continue reading

People Holding Hands
Featured Article, Report, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Apr 26, 2016

Report: Beyond Sharing – How Communities Can Take Ownership of Renewable Power

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/report-beyond-sharing/

Browse the Report Introduction Benefits of Community Renewable Energy U.S. Barriers to Community Renewable Energy Barrier Busting Exceptional Community Energy Projects Community as City A Community Renewable Energy Gold Standard Conclusion Appendix Footnotes The electric utility monopoly is breaking up, but will renewable energy become another form of wealth extraction or will community renewable energy… Continue reading

lobbying or solar from us utilities ilsr
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Apr 25, 2016

Instead of Lobbying, Top 25 Utilities Could Have Doubled U.S. Solar Capacity

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/instead-of-lobbying-top-25-utilities-could-have-doubled-u-s-solar-capacity/

The Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute just released a report analyzing the top 25 U.S. investor-owned electric utilities, and one of the highlights is that these 25 largest utilities collectively spent over $400 million of money (from their ratepayers) lobbying in the past four years. In many cases, this involved lobbying against net metering, renewable… Continue reading

rooftop solar potential usa by state ilsr change 2008-16
Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Apr 11, 2016

Sharply Higher Rooftop Solar Potential Increases Opportunity for Energy Self-Reliance

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/sharply-higher-rooftop-solar-potential-increases-potential-for-energy-self-reliance/

Earlier this year, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory released a new estimate of rooftop solar potential, an update to 2008 figures we used in our landmark state-by-state energy atlas, Energy Self-Reliant States. The bottom line: there’s much more potential to generate our electricity from solar on nearby buildings than we previously thought. The irony is… Continue reading

CERTS Image
Featured Article, Report, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Mar 29, 2016

Report: Re-Member-ing the Electric Cooperative

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/report-remembering-the-electric-cooperative/

by John Farrell, Matt Grimley & Nick Stumo-Langer Electric cooperatives have been the backbone of the nation’s rural electrical system for more than 80 years. Their mission and business model now face more challenges than ever, from financial to contractual to basic member control. But the opportunity is equally great, with a chance for member-driven investment… Continue reading

utility substation - Tyler Wilson via Flickr
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Mar 25, 2016

Pursuing Grid Modernization in a Monopoly Model

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/pursuing-grid-modernization-in-a-monopoly-model/

How can a state modernize its electric system when it’s in the hands of vertically integrated monopolies? We offer some thoughts via its comments on a Grid Modernization docket being reviewed by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Background: the grid modernization docket is a relatively new requirement, asking the state’s largest investor-owned utility to explain… Continue reading