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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

Slow-To-Accelerate EV Charging Program Provides Lessons For Improvement

November 16th, 2017 | by John Farrell

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.


Boulder County Incentive Program Drives Adoption Of Two “Sexy Electrics” — Solar & Electric Cars (Episode 47 Of Local Energy Rules Podcast)

November 13th, 2017 | by John Farrell

An innovative group purchasing program in Boulder County, Colorado, put hundreds of electric vehicles on local roads and sparked the addition of more than 1 megawatt of rooftop solar in its first two years. Now, the initiative is a springboard for efforts nationwide to allow consumers to seize control of their clean energy future.


Working Together, Small Solar Firms Compete With Big-Name Rivals — Episode 45 Of Local Energy Rules Podcast

October 26th, 2017 | by John Farrell

Fast-improving technology and growing consumer interest continue to put momentum behind the clean energy transition. Unlike utilities and other industry players that have largely ignored growth opportunities as market dynamics shift, a coalition of independent solar companies is harnessing its combined power to command more influence in the marketplace.


Minnesota Regulators Eye Subcommittee To Resolve Distributed Generation Disputes

October 20th, 2017 | by John Farrell

Better technology and falling costs for years have buoyed the clean energy economy, steadily putting rooftop solar, energy efficiency, and other distributed energy resources within reach of more U.S. households and businesses. Still, many utilities remain averse to accommodating these amenities despite significant — and rising — demand in the marketplace


Electric Vehicles Report: Part 3 — Changing Rules To Maximize Electric Vehicle Benefits

October 9th, 2017 | by John Farrell

With a virtuous cycle of falling battery costs driving increased electric vehicle deployment, and deployment improving the economics of scale of battery production, the widespread adoption of electric vehicles is likely inevitable. But policies enacted now could influence the timing of widespread use and shape how electric cars benefit the grid.


Electric Vehicles Report: Part 1 — Electric Vehicles Are Going Mainstream

October 2nd, 2017 | by John Farrell

Now, nearly two decades later and 120 years after its introduction, the electric car is making an unmistakable comeback. This time, it’s aided by better technology as well as environmentally sensitive consumers and policymakers looking to supplant fossil fuel use with renewable electricity.


Would You Pay 5% More For Local Energy?

September 28th, 2017 | by John Farrell

In recent months, a raft of cities and states pushed up their renewable energy targets to 50%, 80%, or even 100%. But how will that energy be delivered? Will it be from the top down, by merchant wind and solar power plants? Or from the bottom up, by customers producing their own power?


Westchester Power Puts New York Communities In Charge Of Energy Future — Episode 43 Of Local Energy Rules Podcast

September 25th, 2017 | by John Farrell

A growing number of small- and mid-size communities are harnessing their shared market power to promote local renewable energy. Using a state policy called community choice aggregation, these communities can unseat powerful monopoly utilities and seize greater control over their energy futures by choosing their electricity suppliers or generating their own power.


Xcel Has Room For Renewable Generation On Its Minnesota Grid. So Where Is It?

September 21st, 2017 | by John Farrell

Determining exactly how much local renewable generation can reach Xcel Energy customers in Minnesota hinges in part on how many of these projects the existing grid can accommodate. To that end, the state’s Public Utilities Commission compelled the utility last year to report on more than 1,000 “feeders” delivering electricity to homes and businesses across its Twin Cities service territory


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.



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