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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

Minneapolis Health Department Splits The Bill With Green Investors

January 19th, 2021 | by John Farrell

For this episode of the Local Energy Rules podcast, host John Farrell talks with Patrick Hanlon, Director of Environmental Programs for the Minneapolis Health Department. They discuss Green Cost Share: a program that promotes public health by matching investments in solar and energy efficiency projects


A Solar Settlement For The Good Of The Grid

December 7th, 2020 | by John Farrell

Getting electricity customer-generators the compensation they deserve has been a battle in many states. Could a settlement between the utility and solar advocates squash net metering conflict for good


Berkeley Puts Equitable Climate Action on the Ballot

October 26th, 2020 | by John Farrell

In this episode of the Local Energy Rules Podcast, host John Farrell speaks with Ben Paulos of the Berkeley, Calif. Energy Commission. Paulos and the commission have given the community a chance to put its money where its mouth is with a “climate equity action fund” on the ballot this November


Optimistic Pueblo Is Outspent In First Attempt At Utility Takeover

September 28th, 2020 | by John Farrell

In this episode of the Local Energy Rules Podcast, host John Farrell speaks with Jamie Valdez about Pueblo, Colorado’s efforts to municipalize. In its push for 100% renewable energy, Pueblo went head to head with a power monopoly and has learned the heavy costs of facing a utility giant. Valdez offers up Pueblo’s story to other municipalization efforts nationwide and speaks of the hope the movement still has


Report: 47 US States Could Meet 100% Of Electricity Needs Using In-State Renewables

September 14th, 2020 | by John Farrell

If each US state took full advantage of its renewable resources, how much electricity would it produce? How much of its own electricity consumption could renewable energy fulfill? Would in-state renewable generation be enough to charge electric vehicles and power electric heating, too? The answer, in almost every state, is a resounding yes


The Secret to Low Cost, Low Carbon Home Heating? Your Water Pipes

August 31st, 2020 | by John Farrell

In this episode of the Local Energy Rules Podcast, host John Farrell speaks with Jay Egg, a geothermal expert, about the potential of minimizing the carbon footprint of heating and cooling buildings by adapting water mains to capture the heat just below the Earth’s surface. They discuss successful geothermal projects in Canada and the triumphs and challenges of projects in the


Is Energy Still A Natural Monopoly?

August 3rd, 2020 | by John Farrell

A “natural monopoly” is a service or product that gets cheaper as the market grows. Hempling says that the idea of a natural monopoly has changed dramatically in recent years and that many have lost sight of natural monopoly’s place in energy markets


Why It’s Short-Sighted To Do Centralized Planning In A Decentralizing Electricity Grid

May 18th, 2020 | by John Farrell

With financial rewards tied to building big things, and a 100-year history of doing so, utilities overlook distributed energy resources like rooftop solar. State regulators, expecting the grid future to unfold from a utility’s central plan, rarely push back. But the truth is that central planning may cost everyone (except utility shareholders) more, because the most cost-effective electricity system can be built from the bottom up



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