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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

How Market Power Gives Electric Utilities Political Power

November 18th, 2019 | by John Farrell

In the pathway to 100% renewable energy lie electric utilities. Since the time of electrification until the 1990s, every electric utility was a monopoly -- it owned everything to deliver electricity from the power plants (and sometimes even the coal mines) to the transmission lines to the substations to the distribution lines to the meter on your home or business. With a market monopoly, utilities have enormous political power to promote or avoid change


A New Deal For Electric Co-ops: How Members Can Exercise Ownership To Strengthen Democracy

November 11th, 2019 | by John Farrell

While most Americans get their electricity from a private company, about 1 in 8 Americans actually own their utility as a member-owner of a rural electric cooperative. For this episode of the Local Energy Rules Podcast, host John Farrell speaks with Liz Veazey, Network Director of We Own It, and Chris Woolery, Residential Energy Coordinator at the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development


Why Minnesota’s Community Solar Program Is The Best

October 28th, 2019 | by John Farrell

According to ILSR’s analysis, all customers (subscribers or not) are seeing financial benefits from community solar. The $2.2 million figure does not include factoring in the distribution capacity value of solar nor the potential volatility of gas prices that are avoided, nor does it include the benefits of shifting wealth from power generation ownership away from a private monopoly and to a broad set of subscribers across the state


How City Policy Can Reduce Gas Use

October 21st, 2019 | by John Farrell

In this webinar, Institute for Local Self-Reliance Energy Democracy Initiative director John Farrell is joined by Karl Rábago of the Pace Energy and Climate Center to discuss city-level strategies to reduce gas use


Of New Power Generation, How Much Is On The Roof? Quarterly Update – 2019 Q2

October 14th, 2019 | by John Farrell

Renewable resources dropped back below 50% of new power generation in the second quarter of 2019. Although the proportion of distributed solar has grown in the last two quarters, losses in the growth of utility solar and wind allowed the majority share to be gas, once again. Despite this setback in percentage, renewables are making up a greater portion of new capacity than they have in previous second quarters of 2017 and


Community Power Interactive Toolkit

September 30th, 2019 | by John Farrell

Don’t know where to start in expanding local clean energy in your community? This interactive tool provides examples of over 20 tested tools used by cities and towns across the country to increase local clean energy, reduce energy use, and fight climate change


Why Minnesota’s Community Solar Program Is The Best

September 23rd, 2019 | by John Farrell

Minnesota’s community solar program hit a record 613 megawatts of operational capacity in September 2019. The chart below shows the progress of projects through the program since August 2015, and the nearly two-year lag between the program launch in December 2014 and the successful ignition of multiple megawatts of capacity in January


Do Solar Salespeople Oversell Savings?

September 9th, 2019 | by John Farrell

For home or business owners considering solar, their solar developer predicts how much electricity the system will produce and how much the cost of electricity will increase over the years. Just how accurate are these predictions of rooftop solar savings


The Environment, The Economy, & Equity

September 3rd, 2019 | by John Farrell

On this episode of the Local Energy Rules podcast, host John Farrell speaks with Denise Fairchild, President of the Emerald Cities Collaborative, about Energy Democracy. As co-editor of the book, Fairchild helps explain the concept of energy democracy to Farrell for a recent episode of ILSR’s Building Local Power podcast, republished in a slightly shorter version for Local Energy Rules


Utilities Bid To Own Rooftop Solar Even As They Oppose It

July 15th, 2019 | by John Farrell

Four years have passed since ILSR’s initial report on utility-owned rooftop solar, and this 2019 update shows small growth but some potentially large repercussions. This update rehashes the costs and benefits, updates the progress of the four initial programs, highlights a few new programs, and discusses the wider implications


Of New Power Generation, How Much Is On The Roof? Quarterly Update — 2019 Q1

July 1st, 2019 | by John Farrell

The first quarter of 2019 saw renewable resources claim a majority share of new power generation for the second quarter in a row and for eight of the past 12 quarters. This trend provides a hopeful outlook for the future of clean energy this year, thanks to steady growth from small-scale residential and commercial solar installations and wind power, in particular


Could New Mexico’s Proposed Community Solar Program Raise the Bar?

June 17th, 2019 | by John Farrell

The legislative session is over and the bill was tabled, so New Mexico will be better known for its Energy Transition Act (and its liabilities) for now. But the community solar language that passed the state House in February could set a new standard for community solar program design



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