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An Open Letter to California Energy Commissioners on the Rooftop Solar Mandate

An Open Letter to California Energy Commissioners on the Rooftop Solar Mandate

John Farrell

June 22, 2018

The conventional wisdom in electricity generation is that scale matters. But this outdated notion rests on the assumption that electricity generators compete only in the wholesale market. California's nearly 1 million solar roofs already producing power provide the factual counterpunch to this myth, but so does ample research on the economies of scale and the price of competition in the wind and solar markets.READ MORE


New York Solar Bill Encourages Distributed Energy Market to Stay on Target

New York Solar Bill Encourages Distributed Energy Market to Stay on Target

John Farrell

June 22, 2018

In the New York solar version of this space epic, the Alliance’s X-wing fighters have scrambled to advance Assembly Bill 10474. It’s the only hope to stop VaDER—Value of Distributed Energy Resources--a tool once intended to transition the state’s solar market to version 2.0, but one that incumbent electric utilities have successfully turned to a dark purpose: quashing the ability of New York residents to go solar together.READ MORE


Why Minnesota’s Community Solar Program is the Best

Why Minnesota's Community Solar Program is the Best

John Farrell

June 18, 2018

Minnesota's community solar program hit a record 364 megawatts of operational capacity in June 2018. The chart above shows the progress of projects through the program since August 2015, and the nearly two-year lag between the program launch in December 2014 and the successful ignition of multiple megawatts of capacity in January 2017. Below is a simplified version of the chart above, showing just projects in the design/construction phase or in operation.READ MORE


From the Archive: Anya Schoolman, Executive Director of Solar United Neighbors — Episode 55 of Local Energy Rules Podcast

From the Archive: Anya Schoolman, Executive Director of Solar United Neighbors — Episode 55 of Local Energy Rules Podcast

Marie Donahue

June 8, 2018

How did one group of neighbors from Washington, D.C., band together to advance clean energy locally and then build a larger movement replicating their model elsewhere? In the latest episode from the Local Energy Rules podcast archive, John Farrell, Director of ILSR’s Energy Democracy Initiative, revisits a 2013 interview with Anya Schoolman, the major force behind a unique, grassroots solar cooperative model that has since grown into Solar United Neighbors, now a national leader in distributed, cooperative solar. The two discuss effective ways to invest in solar energy and advocate for local policies to support distributed energy from the ground uREAD MORE


Vote for Decorah Municipal Utility Falls Short, But Local Energy Advocates Persist

Vote for Decorah Municipal Utility Falls Short, But Local Energy Advocates Persist

John Farrell

May 31, 2018

The final referendum results in May 2018 were stunningly close, with local organizers coming within three votes of advancing an effort for a municipal electric utility in the small town of Decorah, Iowa. The incumbent monopoly utility outspent local activists by a 4-to-1 margin, overwhelming local organizing despite a study that suggested electric customers could save 30% by switching to a locally owned utility.READ MORE


Community Power State Scorecard Comparison — 2018 vs. 2017

Community Power State Scorecard Comparison — 2018 vs. 2017

Marie Donahue

May 22, 2018

Earlier this spring, ILSR released its 2018 Community Power State Scorecard, revealing the best and worst states for local clean energy across the country. Did many states improve on their 2017 score? In this new comparison of state rankings, we take a closer look at which states have taken the lead, which are improving, and which have a lot more to do when it comes to creating a policy landscape that enables distributed energy.READ MORE


The State(s) of Distributed Solar — 2017 Update

The State(s) of Distributed Solar — 2017 Update

Marie Donahue

May 14, 2018

Across the country, more states than ever are making solar energy—and distributed solar at that—a key part of their energy mix. But where have these gains been greatest, and what are the economic implications for residents from one state to the next? To answer these questions, an updated analysis of solar markets, using annual data from 2017, takes a closer look at the state-by-state share of distributed solar, highlighting which states have taken the lead to prioritize small-scale, local energy systems.READ MORE


California’s Landmark Solar Homes Mandate Lowers Cost of Home Ownership

California's Landmark Solar Homes Mandate Lowers Cost of Home Ownership

John Farrell

May 11, 2018

Starting January 1, 2020, every new home built in California will sport solar panels. The landmark ruling of the state's Energy Commission is expected to lower the monthly cost of home ownership by $40, but it will also have significant benefits for the local economy and the electric grid.READ MORE


Supporting Affordable Residential Access to Community Solar in Minnesota

Supporting Affordable Residential Access to Community Solar in Minnesota

Marie Donahue

May 3, 2018

In April, ILSR submitted comments in support of affordable residential access to community solar for review by Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission. These comments concerned a proposed residential adder framework outlined as part of the state’s community solar program and Minnesota Department of Commerce Value of Solar calculation. We argue that, in a recent analysis submitted to the Commission by Xcel Energy, the utility exaggerated costs likely to be incurred under this new framework. Our comments support those made by allies such as Cooperative Energy Futures and advocate for adder calculations that ensure financeability and broad participation among residential subscribers to theREAD MORE


Ballot Initiative Shapes Iowa Town’s Fight for Local Power — Episode 54 of Local Energy Rules Podcast

Ballot Initiative Shapes Iowa Town’s Fight for Local Power — Episode 54 of Local Energy Rules Podcast

Marie Donahue

April 25, 2018

What can a town do to advance clean energy locally if it is fed up with its incumbent, investor-owned monopoly utility? In the latest episode of the Local Energy Rules podcast, John Farrell, Director of ILSR’s Energy Democracy Initiative, interviews Andy Johnson and Joel Zook, community members and local energy leaders from Decorah Power, about an upcoming ballot initiative in Decorah, Iowa, and the culmination of an organized, grassroots effort by residents to take back local control of their electric utility and energy future. In a midterm election year, this is one vote that those who care about local, clean eREAD MORE


Of New Power Generation, How Much is on the Roof?  — 2017 Update

Of New Power Generation, How Much is on the Roof? -- 2017 Update

Marie Donahue

April 19, 2018

The U.S. experienced relatively sluggish gains in total new power plant capacity in 2017, when compared to 2016, but it also saw another, more positive outcome: a notable surge in distributed solar. Using the latest available national data on power generation, this most recent look at data on annual and quarterly electricity generation nationwide from the Energy Democracy Initiative at ILSR illustrates how small-scale, distributed solar energy stacks up against its big, fossil fuel and utility-scale renewable energy competitors.READ MORE


South Miami: A Bright Spot for Solar in Sunshine State — Episode 53 of Local Energy Rules Podcast

South Miami: A Bright Spot for Solar in Sunshine State — Episode 53 of Local Energy Rules Podcast

Marie Donahue

April 11, 2018

What can a small city do to advance clean energy locally, if its state commissioners and legislators are not willing to take their jobs regulating monopoly electric utilities seriously? John Farrell interviews Philip Stoddard, the pioneering, fourth-term mayor of South Miami, Florida, who has been sticking up to the state’s incumbent utility, in order to make the state live up to its billing as the Sunshine State.READ MORE


Presentation: Iowa Town Looks to City-Owned Utility

Presentation: Iowa Town Looks to City-Owned Utility

John Farrell

April 4, 2018

ILSR’s Director of Energy Democracy, John Farrell, provided a presentation to a forum of Decorah Power, the local advocacy organization favoring city utility ownership to discuss several advantages from local ownership. First, there’s an abundant local wind and solar energy resource. Second, Decorah isn’t alone, and over 2,000 other cities chart their own course with municipal ownership. Finally, getting power locally returns more dollars to the local economy.READ MORE


Leaked Draft Bill Confirms Xcel Energy’s Priority for Profits Over Community Solar

Leaked Draft Bill Confirms Xcel Energy’s Priority for Profits Over Community Solar

Marie Donahue

March 30, 2018

A newly-released parody video makes Xcel Energy’s top priority clear: maximize profits for shareholders, even if that comes at the expense of the country’s most successful community solar program. Supporting analysis of a leaked draft bill from Xcel lobbyists illustrates this further and points out the company’s nasty habit of trying to make its own rules.READ MORE


Video: Rochester Seeks 100% Renewable — Local Power for the Local Economy

Video: Rochester Seeks 100% Renewable -- Local Power for the Local Economy

Nick Stumo-Langer

March 27, 2018

Why should a city seeking 100% renewable energy focus on local generation? ILSR's Director of Energy Democracy, John Farrell, provides a short presentation to a forum in Rochester, MN, with three reasons.READ MORE