If you’re reading energy news of late, you might have come across three new ways that forces are aligning against local renewable energy. State governments are increasingly pre-empting local authority on a range of issues, including energy. Utility companies are undercutting state regulation with their legislative lobbyists. And utilities are also bringing their monopoly market power to bear in previously competitive markets.
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In this week’s episode of Building Local Power we interview Debbie Dooley, President of Conservatives for Energy Freedom and co-founder of the Green Tea Coalition in the southern United States. Dooley’s organizations promote “consumer choice in the energy field” to “provide competition” and stop monopolies from limiting their customer’s options in renewable energy. The Green… Continue reading
Minnesota’s largest investor-owned utility, Xcel Energy, last month reported sparse participation in a program designed to deliver value to customers who charge their electric vehicles when it’s most convenient for the grid. But despite its benefits for the grid and cost savings for customers, the initiative appears stuck in neutral.
By April 2017, a year and a half after its launch, just 95 Xcel customers had opted in to the state-mandated electric vehicle charging tariff. With nearly 1,000 plug-in vehicles registered to Minnesota drivers — a bulk of them likely in Xcel’s metro-area territory — participation numbers hover well below reasonable expectations. Why? Continue reading
As an increasing number of cities across the U.S. pledge their commitment to purchase 100% of their power from renewable sources in the coming decades, some researchers questioned the feasibility of such energy policies. One recent 100% study takes the position that it is impractical for the continental U.S. to commit to 100% water, wind,… Continue reading
The U.S. vehicle market will undergo a massive technology disruption from electric vehicles in the coming decades. Many analysts see the potential for surging sales of these efficient vehicles to enable smart grid management, but few have explored the local impact of electric vehicles: promoting energy democracy. Electric vehicles offer a natural use for solar energy, a pathway to pump more local solar power onto the grid, and a source of resilient power when the grid goes down. Ultimately, electric vehicles are another tool to miniaturize the electricity system, providing unprecedented local control.
Yesterday’s news about the Paris Climate Accords has provoked a groundswell of commitments for local action on climate change. But what can cities actually do in the absence of federal support? A lot. In fact, with the help of states, cities have many avenues to boost their economies and drive down energy costs with local… Continue reading
With nearly 1500 megawatts, Massachusetts has the seventh-greatest solar energy capacity in the country, enough to power a quarter-million homes. It has the second-most solar jobs, with over 14,500. Already in a leading position, Massachusetts in January developed a new incentive program to double its solar capacity to over 3 gigawatts. It’s a fascinating blast… Continue reading
Welcome to episode fifteen of the Building Local Power podcast. For full transcript of the podcast, click here. In this episode, Christopher Mitchell, the director of ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks initiative, interviews John Farrell and Karlee Weinmann, researchers for ILSR’s Energy Democracy initiative on the prospects of renewable energy given President Trump’s executive orders undermining the… Continue reading
Pueblo, Colorado, last month became the first city to commit to an all-renewables future since President Donald Trump took office. The new administration continues to cast significant doubt over the future of federal policies designed to promote clean energy and distributed generation, virtually ensuring the best energy policy will sprout from state and local leadership…. Continue reading
Sprouting from southeastern Minnesota farm country, the city of Rochester is an unassuming mini-metropolis best known for its world-famous Mayo Clinic. But the city is also home to the state’s largest municipal utility and an ambitious plan to ramp up renewable generation, a one-two punch aimed at galvanizing the local economy. A 2015 mayoral proclamation… Continue reading