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

Short-Sighted Utility Stymies Solar In Milwaukee

April 20th, 2017 | by John Farrell

Back in 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy recognized Milwaukee as a budding leader in the movement to promote solar power at the local level. Nearly a decade later, the city’s success in promoting solar remains handcuffed by an investor-owned utility fighting progress in favor of the status quo


In Maryland, Community Solar Pioneers Offer Blueprint

April 17th, 2017 | by John Farrell

A pair of rooftop solar arrays in Maryland spotlight how pioneering communities can pool their resources to expand local access to renewable energy. These “community solar” projects are an increasingly popular approach as electricity customers renounce utilities’ reliance on fossil fuel and look for ways to cut their energy costs


San Diego Sets Vision, Vets Options for 100% Renewables

April 10th, 2017 | by John Farrell

Late last year, San Diego set a landmark goal that made it the largest U.S. city to target a 100% renewable electricity mix over the next two decades. But as the pact’s first anniversary approaches, big questions loom over how exactly San Diego will hit the ambitious benchmark


At The 2-Year Mark, A Few Lessons From The Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership (Episode 40 Of Local Energy Rules Podcast)

April 3rd, 2017 | by John Farrell

Minneapolis garnered national attention when it formed a first-of-its-kind partnership with local utilities to advance sustainable, efficient energy policy. Now, as communities across the US increasingly push for influence over their energy futures, the Midwestern city offers a blueprint for what works and a taste of the challenges that come with cooperation.


Should Energy Storage Share The Tax Credits For Renewable Energy?

March 13th, 2017 | by John Farrell

In May of 2016, the US Representative from Silicon Valley, Mike Honda (D), introduced the Energy Storage for Grid Resilience and Modernization Act (H.R. 5350). In short, this bill extends the current 30% Renewable Energy Tax Credit (which was just extended last year) to energy storage technologies, not just the wind, solar, and geothermal power plants that feed electricity into the grid.


Is New York’s “Compromise” The Future For Net Metering?

March 6th, 2017 | by John Farrell

The proposed solution is a three-part price for solar energy produced, but not used, locally: the value of the electricity based on location, the value to the distribution (local) grid, and the “external” societal value. The new price works in concert with, rather than replacing, net metering


Picking Up PACE After New Federal Guidance

February 27th, 2017 | by John Farrell

A promising energy efficiency program could get closer to reaching its massive potential after a federal policy tweak that tempers lenders’ concerns to allow more homeowners to cash in


Mountains Beyond Mountains: How Green Mountain Power Became More Than An Electric Utility – Episode 38 of Local Energy Rules Podcast

January 30th, 2017 | by John Farrell

“We just need to become the Ben and Jerry’s of the utility world!” So said Mary Powell, CEO and president of Green Mountain Power, as she announced in 2014 that her electric utility had just earned B Corp certification, making it one of more than 1,700 companies in the world committed to rigorous standards for sustainability, accountability and transparency


Competition & Freedom At Stake — Episode 37 Of Local Energy Rules Podcast

January 25th, 2017 | by John Farrell

Incentives designed to make rooftop solar feasible for a wider range of consumers are under attack nationwide, threatening new solar development as well as the consumers that already have rooftop panels. The staunchest opponents? Utilities which say, despite a growing body of research to the contrary, that rooftop solar hurts other ratepayers and their bottom lines


Beyond Sharing Report – Part 2: Barrier Busting

January 6th, 2017 | by John Farrell

There are three big tools for breaking down the barriers to community renewable energy: using non-tax-based incentives for renewable energy, simplifying the process of raising capital, and adopting formal “community energy” laws that enable power sharing.


Beyond Sharing Report — Part 1: Benefits of Community-Owned Renewable Energy

January 4th, 2017 | by John Farrell

In this report, we talked about several forms of community renewable energy. Community-owned renewables are owned locally, by members of the community. Shared renewables may or may not be locally owned, but the community can share the output. Group purchasing involves collective action to purchase renewable energy, such as rooftop solar arrays, but the benefits accrue to the individuals who host the solar on their rooftops


Presentation: Re-Member-ing the Electric Cooperative

December 5th, 2016 | by John Farrell

placeholderIn March of 2016, we published a report on the state of rural electric cooperatives in the current electricity market: Re-Member-ing the Electric Cooperative. Below you will find our newly developed presentation based on this report. Forward and share widely


Why Is Green Pricing A Premium When Wind Power Is Cheap?

November 15th, 2016 | by John Farrell

Ten years ago, a North Dakota cooperative stopped charging customers a premium for getting energy from the wind, because they found it wasn't costing anything extra. The cooperative, like many utilities, used a "green pricing" program that allowed customers to voluntarily pay more to get their energy solely from renewable resources



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