About John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Democratic Energy program at ILSR and he focuses on energy policy developments that best expand the benefits of local ownership and dispersed generation of renewable energy. His seminal paper, Democratizing the Electricity System, describes how to blast the roadblocks to distributed renewable energy generation, and how such small-scale renewable energy projects are the key to the biggest strides in renewable energy development.   Farrell also authored the landmark report Energy Self-Reliant States, which serves as the definitive energy atlas for the United States, detailing the state-by-state renewable electricity generation potential. Farrell regularly provides discussion and analysis of distributed renewable energy policy on his blog, Energy Self-Reliant States (energyselfreliantstates.org), and articles are regularly syndicated on Grist and Renewable Energy World.   John Farrell can also be found on Twitter @johnffarrell, or at jfarrell@ilsr.org.



Author Archives: John Farrell

Residential Subscribers In Focus As Minnesota Weighs Community Solar Incentives

September 18th, 2017 | by John Farrell

The residential adder discussion is part of a larger debate over what state regulators can do to ensure community solar is universally accessible. Particularly as these projects catch on with developers in Minnesota and nationwide, sensible policies must ensure equitable distribution of their benefits -- from reduced utility bills for subscribers to economic development in the communities they serve


The New 1,600 Megawatt Solar Program For Massachusetts Really Is SMART

September 14th, 2017 | by John Farrell

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 more than 3 gigawatts


Getting The Price Right For Local Wind & Solar

September 11th, 2017 | by John Farrell

A federal policy enacted nearly 40 years ago has breathed life into an ongoing argument at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission over utility opposition to a wind-solar hybrid project proposed in the rural city of Red Lake Falls.


Podcast: Thanks To Your Local Economy, Renewables Aren’t Going Anywhere

September 7th, 2017 | by John Farrell

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 Clean Power Plan.


Rural Solar At Risk As Co-ops Push For Less Oversight

September 5th, 2017 | by John Farrell

Minnesota’s governor recently vetoed anti-renewables legislation that threatens rural solar development, but the bill’s likely resurgence means the state remains among a growing crop of Midwestern states facing the prospect of heavy-handed limitations on solar growth.


Video: A Solar Leader Emerges In Rural Iowa

August 24th, 2017 | by John Farrell

It seems counter-intuitive that a conservative farming community in southeastern Iowa is home to some of the most expansive solar generation in the US. But that’s exactly what’s happening in the area served by Farmers Electric Cooperative, the rural utility whose enterprising leader, Warren McKenna, saw renewables as a gateway to economic vitality.


Arkansas Utility Leads On Energy & Broadband

August 17th, 2017 | by John Farrell

Ouachita Electric Cooperative, nestled deep in south-central Arkansas, is an unlikely innovator in a pair of industries struggling to adapt to shifting market dynamics: electricity and broadband.


Solar: Choice, Competition, & Clean Air

July 31st, 2017 | by John Farrell

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.


Broadly Sharing the Benefits of “Decarbonization”

July 27th, 2017 | by John Farrell

Last summer, I saw a presentation on “deep decarbonization” that outlined necessary changes in the US economy in order to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The presentation was fascinating, offering some very specific elements to focus our attention. For example, the following graphic shows the average number of replacements for various infrastructure types prior to the typical deadline of 2050. A hot water heater might be swapped three times by 2050, providing several opportunities to make it more efficient or switch its fuel source. Conversely, a power plant might be replaced once (if at all), and a new home is likely to still be in use past the 2050 deadline


Is Bigger Best in Renewable Energy? (Webinar Video)

July 24th, 2017 | by John Farrell

On December 5th, I delivered a webinar presentation detailing the findings of our recent report, Is Bigger Best in Renewable Energy? In this presentation, Farrell discusses how conventional wisdom suggests that larger solar and wind projects deliver energy at lower costs, but that location matters, and that the point of delivery and ownership matter more


Inclusive Financing Report: Part 1 — A Huge Opportunity

July 17th, 2017 | by John Farrell

The best energy efficiency programs serve less than 2% of customers each year, and few reach the majority of a utility’s customers, including renters, customers without strong credit, and low- and moderate-income households, who pay disproportionately high energy bills



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