In August 2019, the Director of ILSR’s Energy Democracy initiative visited Taunton, Mass., where the community is hoping their city-owned electric utility will accelerate its progress toward renewable energy. In his presentation, John Farrell shared several powerful stories of what’s possible, including the two key tenets of energy democracy: decentralized energy production and decentralized and democratic management and ownership of the system.
The stories included:
- The Shiloh Temple cooperatively owned community solar project, one of dozens of projects in Minnesota’s nation-leading community solar program. As a whole, the program offers $1.2 billion in anticipated revenue for subscribers including many pollinator-friendly installations. Some communities not served by the program, like Grand Rapids, Minn., have struggled to see success with community solar.
- The enormous potential––the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows nearly 40% of each state’s electricity could be generated from solar energy of rooftops.
- How local governance isn’t always a guarantee of coordinating community interests with a publicly-owned utility, with examples from Truckee, Calif., and Rochester, Minn.
- The Voices of 100% series of the Local Energy Rules podcasts, featuring stories of the struggles that cities have made in pursuit of 100% renewable energy. Specifically, John mentioned an interview with Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux of Grand Marais, Minn., and Mayor Breea Clark of Norman, Okla. In Bloomfield, Iowa, Americorps volunteers did a “summer of light” door-to-door effort to bring energy efficient light bulbs directly to customers even as the city-owned utility expanded financing strategies (like inclusive energy financing) to help folks make other improvements to make their home more comfortable.
- The success of Georgetown and Denton, Tex., in pursuing 100% renewable energy.
- The renewable energy led by a visionary general manager at Farmers Electric Cooperative in Iowa.
- The struggle for local self-reliance in Boulder, Colo., and how the struggle itself has pressured the utility to answer the local call for renewable energy.
- Cities that have maximized their investment in solar on public buildings, like New Bedford, Mass.
- The efforts of the city-owned utility in Austin, Tex., to make public charging for electric vehicles accessible to everyone.
This article originally posted at ilsr.org. For timely updates, follow John Farrell on Twitter, our energy work on Facebook, or sign up to get the Energy Democracy weekly update.
Featured Photo Credit: TCAM TV (screenshot)