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

Co-op Power Puts Localist Spin on Clean Energy Economy

May 22nd, 2017 | by John Farrell

Over nearly 15 years, Co-op Power has implemented practices that promote local ownership and greater community control. Owned by more than 500 members, Co-op Power includes a half-dozen individual energy co-ops in the northeast.


“Is Bigger Best?” Report — Part 3: Why Economics Isn’t The Problem

May 15th, 2017 | by John Farrell

Despite an American fascination with big things, the key to unlocking renewable energy is found in small packages as well as big ones. And one key to understanding the debate is to understand the players, with incumbent utility companies (and their incentive to build big things to make money) playing an outsize role in the debate over the right size of wind and solar


“Is Bigger Best?” Report — Part 2: Limits to Scale in Solar

May 11th, 2017 | by John Farrell

The question of scale economies in solar has been both a technological and an economic one. As mentioned before, the contention in the late 2000s was that concentrating solar thermal power plant technology would outstrip solar photovoltaics (PV) because the latter was marginally more efficient (at the point of generation) and could incorporate energy storage.


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



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