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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

Why Minnesota’s Community Solar Program Is The Best

September 10th, 2018 | by John Farrell

I’ve been asked a lot of questions about Minnesota’s community solar program over the past couple years and it’s time to make one thing clear: Minnesota’s program is the best in the country. Why? Because there 10 times more community solar projects in the queue -- 400 megawatts -- in Minnesota than have been built in the history of community solar in the United States (40 megawatts)


Ohio Residents Exercise Community Choice to Bill Themselves for Public Solar — Episode 56 of Local Energy Rules Podcast

July 30th, 2018 | by John Farrell

As consumers, we all want choice: the freedom to decide our own best interests and where our dollars go. In the energy sector, however, there are not always options to choose from. Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) frees communities to collectively choose their energy supplier. In Ohio, one city is stretching its freedom to choose even further


An Open Letter To California Energy Commissioners On The Rooftop Solar Mandate

July 16th, 2018 | by John Farrell

The conventional wisdom in electricity generation is that scale matters. But this outdated notion rests on the assumption that electricity generators compete only in the wholesale market. California’s nearly 1 million solar roofs already producing power provide the factual counterpunch to this myth, but so does ample research on the economies of scale and the price of competition in the wind and solar markets


New York Solar Bill Encourages Distributed Energy Market To Stay On Target

July 9th, 2018 | by John Farrell

If you like solar power, the waning days of New York’s legislative session might make you feel like fighters at the Rebel base during the last scenes of the original Star Wars film. As the scene shifts from the space battle and back again, a voice from the Death Star crew counts down the time until the superweapon will end the freedom fighters: “The Rebel base will be in range in 1 minute…”


The State(s) Of Distributed Solar — 2017 Update

May 29th, 2018 | by John Farrell

Energy production from renewable sources continues to expand in the US at a rapid clip, thanks in no small part to the substantial growth of solar energy -- and distributed solar in particular -- in recent years. More states than ever are making solar a priority. But where have these gains been greatest, and what are the economic implications for residents from one state to the next


California’s Landmark Solar Homes Mandate Lowers Cost of Home Ownership

May 21st, 2018 | by John Farrell

Starting January 1, 2020, every new home built in California will sport solar panels. The landmark ruling of the state’s Energy Commission is expected to lower the monthly cost of home ownership by $40, as the energy savings from solar (and other building envelope measures) added to new construction offsets the anticipated costs.


Podcast: Ballot Initiative Shapes Iowa Town’s Fight for Local Power

May 7th, 2018 | by John Farrell

Fed up with their electricity provider Alliant Energy, one of Iowa’s largest monopoly utilities, Decorah area residents decided to explore their options for pursuing cleaner, local energy and how the city could create a municipal electric utility for its 8,000 residents and business community. Advocates formed Decorah Power, a grassroots group of residents and community organizers making a clear case for municipal control, and the group has been garnering support for putting the public back in their public utility.


Of New Power Generation, How Much Is On The Roof? — 2017 Update

May 3rd, 2018 | by John Farrell

Drawing on the latest national data available on new electricity sources, 2017 may have brought more sluggish gains in total new power plant capacity to the US than it had the year before, but it also brought another, more positive outcome: a notable surge in the nation’s distributed solar generation.


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.



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