IntelligentUtility.com, April 26, 2012
Yesterday, I suggested that you meet John Farrell, who directs the Energy Self-Reliant States and Communities program at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. He focuses on energy policies that expand the benefits of local ownership of distributed generation, particularly renewable energy.
That column, “Power Utilities’ Morphing Future,” got plenty of thoughtful response, from advocates of the ideas Farrell presented to skeptics. (Thank goodness for authentic skepticism and open enquiry, which keeps us all honest, as opposed to mere naysaying noise that serves only to obfuscate and derail a fruitful debate or exchange of ideas.)
Back to Farrell and his efforts—again, offered here to stimulate fresh thinking among our utility readership. He mentioned Wilmer, Minnesota, as a good example of moving to greater local control and ownership of its energy future.
“I like the Wilmer [sic] Municipal Utility in west-central Minnesota,” Farrell said. “Under their long-term power purchase contract they’re allowed to do a certain percentage of self-generation. They decided to build two wind turbines because they provided long-term, low-cost electricity and a hedge against fuel price fluctuations. With a neighboring rural, electric co-op, they’re working on a community solar project, where the utilities would finance and construct a solar project on a common parcel of property. Then citizens of the muni and members of the co-op could potentially be investors.