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New Report Argues For A Renewable Energy Policy That Puts Rural Communities First

| Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Mar 16, 2008 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

For Immediate Release

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Minneapolis, MN—(September 8, 2008).  The next 20 years could generate as much as $1 trillion in new renewable energy investment in rural America. But as a new Ford Foundation-sponsored study by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance argues, federal policies minimize the benefit of that investment to rural economies.

Existing federal policies encourage large-scale, absentee owned wind farms and biofuel plants, notes the report, Rural Power: Community-Scaled Renewable Energy and Rural Economic Development.

“By encouraging large-scale projects with significant transmission or transportation distances, federal policies reduce the potential for locally owned renewable energy projects,” explains report co-author John Farrell.  ”The premise is that ‘bigger is better’, but the evidence shows otherwise.  The benefits of building big are small; the benefits of building small, on the other hand, are quite large.”

The report argues that locally owned wind and biofuels projects have a significantly higher beneficial local economic impact.  They deliver more jobs than comparably sized absentee owned projects and return profits to local investors.  And since they serve local and regional markets, locally owned projects minimize long-distance transportation and transmission.

Rural Power provides a policy roadmap for states and the federal government that would encourage modest-sized renewable energy facilities and local ownership.

Rural Power is available for download here.


About ILSR and the New Rules Project: Since 1974, ILSR has worked with citizen groups, governments and private businesses in developing practices that extract the maximum value from local resources.  A program of ILSR, the New Rules Project was designed to build community by supporting humanly scaled politics and economics. More at

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About David Morris

David Morris is co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its initiative on The Public Good. He is the author of the New City States, Seeing the Light, and three other non-fiction books. His essays on public policy are regularly published by On the Commons, Alternet, Common Dreams and the Huffington Post.

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