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Featured Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Mar 1, 2017

Energy Democracy in 4 Powerful Steps

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/energy-democracy-in-4-steps/

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 power plants. In the last eight years, it’s been at or over 60% almost every year. In the first three quarters of 2016, 16% of our new power capacity came from distributed solar alone (such as home rooftop solar arrays).

But few people realize that the change from fossil fuels to renewable sources is just a harbinger for a phase of massive disruption in energy markets. The disruption will remake how the energy system serves its users and offer unprecedented choices for customers. It may go further than choice.  As the energy system shifts away from the outdated utility monopoly model, the four Ds of energy democracy — distributed power, decentralization, democracy from ownership, and disruptive technology — have the potential to put those users in charge and allow them to reap the economic benefits.

Democracy from Distributed Power

Power generation is the first line of democratization, brought on by the miniaturization of power plants. Last century was defined by gigawatt-scale nuclear and coal and hundred-megawatt-scale gas power plants. Now, power generation has shrunk down to multi-megawatt wind turbines and multi-watt solar panels.

Even the largest wind and solar power plants are compilations of hundreds or thousands of mass produced individual turbines or solar cells.  Continue reading

Featured Article, ILSR Press Room filed under Energy | Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Feb 22, 2017

Sherco Power Plant: The Wrong Project, for the Wrong Reasons, At a Big Cost

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/sherco-power-plant-the-wrong-project-for-the-wrong-reasons-at-a-big-cost/

Have you seen this advertisement from Xcel Energy? We’ve done a little bit of work to clarify their message for them.

The proposed Sherco natural gas plant bill will soon be at Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton’s desk, after you watch our video, give him a call and tell him you oppose this billion-dollar boondoggle. Continue reading

Featured Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jan 17, 2017

Solar: Choice, Competition, and Clean Air

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/choice-competition-and-clean-air/

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

Featured Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by Karlee Weinmann | No Comments | Updated on Feb 3, 2017

Thanks to Co-op, Small Iowa Town Goes Big On Solar

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/thanks-to-co-op-small-iowa-town-goes-big-on-solar/

It’s hard to imagine a place more bucolic than the rural farming communities clustered around Kalona, Iowa — the kind of place that for generations has embodied conservative, blue-collar values woven throughout rural America. Nestled in the gently rolling hills of southeastern Iowa, it’s at first difficult to tell what sets Kalona apart from countless… Continue reading

Featured Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States, Independent Business, The Public Good | Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Mar 23, 2017

Breaking Through Partisanship: Left-Right-Local – Episode 14 of the Building Local Power Podcast

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/breaking-through-partisanship-left-right-local-episode-14-of-the-building-local-power-podcast/

In this episode, Christopher Mitchell, the director of ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks initiative, interviews John Farrell, Stacy Mitchell, and David Morris, directors of our Energy Democracy, Community-Scaled Economies, and Public Good initiatives, respectively. The group discusses the nature of local policies and politics versus the national-level fights and hyper-partisanship. Continue reading