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Featured Article, Resource filed under The Public Good | Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Nov 16, 2017

Supporting Family Farming in the Age of Monopoly with Joe Maxwell (Episode 33)

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/family-farming-blp-episode-33/

“A competitive marketplace is fundamental to how our country should work,” says Joe Maxwell. In recent years, though, many markets have stopped being competitive, including food and farming. In this episode of in this episode of ILSR’s Building Local Power podcast, Maxwell sits down to talk about it with Stacy Mitchell, ILSR’s co-director.

Maxwell, the former Lt. Gov. of Missouri, is now executive director of the Organization for Competitive Markets. He’s also the president and CEO of Family Farm Action, a coalition of family farmers and advocates that’s building the “political muscle” to fight for farmers and communities. Continue reading

Article filed under The Public Good | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Nov 3, 2017

Farmworkers of the World — Unite!

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/farmworkers-of-the-world-unite/

This article was originally published in our The Public Good: Reports from the Front Lines (October 26, 2017), available here. Florida produces 90 percent of our winter tomatoes. The Immokalee region in southwestern Florida grows one-third of all U.S. tomatoes. The plight of farmworkers in the Immokalee area has been publicly known for decades. That plight was featured in Edward R…. Continue reading

Featured Article, Resource filed under The Public Good | Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Nov 2, 2017

This Ag Economist Preached Bigger is Better. Now He Says the Evidence Favors Small Farms. (Episode 32)

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/sustainable-agriculture-blp-episode-31/

Since the 1960s, there’s been a concerted effort by economists and policymakers to consolidate family farms into large-scale industrial agriculture operations. The thinking was that these giant farms could better feed the world. Today’s guest, John Ikerd, was one of those economists — that is, until the farm crisis hit in the 1980s. Ikerd took a… Continue reading

Photo: Grocery Aisle
Article filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Apr 25, 2014

A Trojan Carrot

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

Walmart already controls more than 25 percent of the U.S. grocery market. With its latest organic scheme, it’s aiming to control even more. Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 2 Comments | Updated on Jan 3, 2012

Some Skepticism on Solar Thermal Power’s Storage Potential

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/some-skepticism-solar-thermal-powers-storage-potential/

Yesterday New York Times reporter Matt Wald had a piece on the role of energy storage in supporting the expansion of renewable energy.  However, his specific focus on solar thermal power generation overlooks the potentially high costs of relying on solar thermal power as well as the potential for distributed “storehousing” of renewable energy. Solar… Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on May 3, 2011

State Energy Self-Reliance Potential

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

The following map was the headline graphic to our 2009 report, Energy Self-Reliant States, the report that inspired this blog.  I re-created the map for web viewing, so it’s now even easier to share how each state can meet its electricity consumption with in-state renewable energy resources. 

The renewable resources considered include on- and off-shore wind, rooftop solar PV, hydro, combined heat and power, and high-temperature geothermal.  Read the Energy Self-Reliant States report for more details.

Click the image for a larger version or here for an interactive one.

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Dec 22, 2010

U.S. Military Sees Great Value in Distributed Renewable Energy

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/us-military-sees-great-value-distributed-renewable-energy/

There’s no better illustration of the value of distributed renewable energy than the U.S. military.  In Iraq, the 50,000 U.S. troops (as of August 2010) use 600 million gallons of fuel per year at a cost of dozens of lives of U.S. soldiers who die protecting fuel convoys and financial cost of nearly $27 billion for fuel and security ($45 per gallon!).  New distributed renewable energy systems can help combat brigades reduce fuel consumption, saving lives and money.

One Marine company – Company I, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines – field-tested the Ground Renewable Expeditionary ENergy System (GREENS) system in August 2010 and found that it saved 8 gallons of fuel per day for each of the company’s 150 men.  Complemented with other renewable energy systems, the Marines powered their combat operations center without using the diesel generator for eight days.

The renewable technology that will power Company I costs about $50,000 to $70,000; a single diesel generator costs several thousand dollars. But when it costs hundreds of dollars to get each gallon of traditional fuel to base camps in Afghanistan, the investment is quickly defrayed.”

It takes approximately 200 GREENS (1,600 kilowatts of solar modules with battery storage for 300 Watts of continuous power) to replace a single 60 kilowatt diesel generator, but it saved the Marine company 1,200 gallons of fuel per day.  In Iraq, that fuel would have cost $45 per gallon, including transportation and security costs.  That’s a savings of $54,000 in a single day.  If priced at $70,000 each, the 200 GREENS will pay back in 260 days, less than 9 months. 

If every U.S. company serving in Iraq made use of GREENS, it would reduce fuel consumption by U.S. troops by 25%, saving 146 million gallons of fuel and $6.5 billion per year. 

There are benefits besides saved fuel and money.  Marines appreciated that the solar-powered base systems are quiet, and also don’t require constant refueling.  The no-fuel requirement also benefits security, as 72 U.S. soldiers died protecting convoys in Iraq in 2009.

The military provides a great illustration of the utility and cost-effectiveness of distributed generation, and one that should inform state-side strategies for energy deployment.

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Dec 16, 2010

Change in Tax Credit Policy Drives 24% Drop in Residential Solar Price

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/change-tax-credit-policy-drives-24-drop-residential-solar-price/

Update: It’s important to note that this refers to the net installed cost.  In other words, the installed cost dropped because residential solar customers were now getting an uncapped federal tax credit. We wrote in this 2009 report about the perverse problems created by the $2,000 cap on the federal residential solar tax credit.  The… Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Dec 13, 2010

Distributed Solar Power, Illustrated

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/distributed-solar-power-illustrated/

With environmental (e.g. desert tortoise) and political (NIMBY) questions raised about centralized renewable energy generation, it’s worth noting that we can generate a lot of power by covering already developed spaces.  See California, where solar PV arrays cover parking lots, providing peak power and soothing shade for the shielded vehicles underneath. Not only are these… Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Dec 9, 2010

Perverse Policy Makes Distributed Renewables More Expensive

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/perverse-policy-makes-distributed-renewables-more-expensive/

We’ve talked previously about the perversity of using tax credits to incentivize renewable energy production, increasing transaction costs and reducing participation in renewable energy development.  But there are other perversities in U.S. state and utility renewable energy policies, especially with upfront rebates and net metering. Let’s start with rebates.  Many states and utilities offer upfront… Continue reading