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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

States Agree: Third-Party Ownership Enables Distributed Solar, But What’s Next?

April 9th, 2018 | by John Farrell

Much has changed in the national solar market since an earlier analysis of the market and policy landscape in 2014. The solar market as a whole has continued to grow, and small-scale systems are proving to be better deals for communities than larger ones. So, compared with previous rankings of solar capacity, do states that allow third-party leases and power purchase agreements still dominate?


ILSR Video Parody Lampoons Xcel Energy’s Ask For “Blank Check” In Minnesota Legislature

April 2nd, 2018 | by John Farrell

In March, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Community Power released a video that tells Minnesotans the truth about the bill Xcel is attempting to jam through the Legislature. The video is being released ahead of the impending Senate Energy Committee hearing where members will vote on the bill Xcel drafted to give itself a blank check for upkeep costs of its Prairie Island nuclear plant


Solar Surprise: Small-Scale Solar A Better Deal Than Big

March 19th, 2018 | by John Farrell

What do grid customers actually pay for distributed solar, when taking into account the cost of delivery and the portion of energy that solar owners use for themselves? What is the value of local spending on distributed solar projects?   It’s a result that may surprise many in the energy industry


Community Solar & Value Of Solar Under Review in Minnesota

March 5th, 2018 | by John Farrell

Minnesota’s leading community solar program is about to go through its first major change, from using net metering retail compensation (plus a credit payment) to using Minnesota’s value of solar payment. Unlike other states that have torpedoed net metering, Minnesota’s alternative compensation actually takes into account the value of solar energy to the utility, the grid, and society.


Video: Minnesota SEIA — Gateway to Solar Presentation

February 26th, 2018 | by John Farrell

In September of 2017, ILSR Energy Democracy initiative director John Farrell spoke in front of the Minnesota Solar Energy Industry Association‘s Midwest Gateway to Solar event. In his talk he spoke about the importance of sound renewable energy policies that enable growth in locally-owned solar energy and how massive electric utilities are doing their best to harm locally-owned renewables.


Paying Utilities For Performance

February 15th, 2018 | by John Farrell

In most states with regulated, monopoly utilities, utilities are compensation based on two factors: energy sales and a return on capital spent, such as when they build a new power plant. Although energy efficiency standards have been layered on top of this model, the fundamental incentive for the utility remains “build things, get rewards for shareholders.”


6 Reasons Your Next Car Should Be Electric

January 29th, 2018 | by John Farrell

Originally published on ilsr.org. From ILSR’s newest report on electric vehicles, here are six reasons your next car should be electric: 1. [&hellip


An Overlooked Solution For Competitive & Local Renewable Power

January 25th, 2018 | by John Farrell

Today, there’s a battle brewing across the US to reinvigorate a little-used law and bring it into alignment with a modern marketplace riper than ever for small-scale renewables. Like other policies that present compelling local economic value -- among them net metering and community solar -- PURPA lives or dies by its implementation


Zero Is The Hero: Zero Net Energy Buildings Reach New Communities, Promising Savings & Renewable Energy

January 11th, 2018 | by John Farrell

As energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies continue to improve both functionally and economically, Zero Net Energy (ZNE) buildings are spreading in communities around the country. The energy savings and environmental benefits of ZNE buildings, which produce as much energy using on-site renewables as they consume, are catching the attention of city leaders, regulators, and individuals nationwide



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