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

Electric Vehicles Report: Part 3 — Changing Rules To Maximize Electric Vehicle Benefits

October 9th, 2017 | by John Farrell

With a virtuous cycle of falling battery costs driving increased electric vehicle deployment, and deployment improving the economics of scale of battery production, the widespread adoption of electric vehicles is likely inevitable. But policies enacted now could influence the timing of widespread use and shape how electric cars benefit the grid.


Electric Vehicles Report: Part 1 — Electric Vehicles Are Going Mainstream

October 2nd, 2017 | by John Farrell

Now, nearly two decades later and 120 years after its introduction, the electric car is making an unmistakable comeback. This time, it’s aided by better technology as well as environmentally sensitive consumers and policymakers looking to supplant fossil fuel use with renewable electricity.


Would You Pay 5% More For Local Energy?

September 28th, 2017 | by John Farrell

In recent months, a raft of cities and states pushed up their renewable energy targets to 50%, 80%, or even 100%. But how will that energy be delivered? Will it be from the top down, by merchant wind and solar power plants? Or from the bottom up, by customers producing their own power?


Westchester Power Puts New York Communities In Charge Of Energy Future — Episode 43 Of Local Energy Rules Podcast

September 25th, 2017 | by John Farrell

A growing number of small- and mid-size communities are harnessing their shared market power to promote local renewable energy. Using a state policy called community choice aggregation, these communities can unseat powerful monopoly utilities and seize greater control over their energy futures by choosing their electricity suppliers or generating their own power.


Xcel Has Room For Renewable Generation On Its Minnesota Grid. So Where Is It?

September 21st, 2017 | by John Farrell

Determining exactly how much local renewable generation can reach Xcel Energy customers in Minnesota hinges in part on how many of these projects the existing grid can accommodate. To that end, the state’s Public Utilities Commission compelled the utility last year to report on more than 1,000 “feeders” delivering electricity to homes and businesses across its Twin Cities service territory


Residential Subscribers In Focus As Minnesota Weighs Community Solar Incentives

September 18th, 2017 | by John Farrell

The residential adder discussion is part of a larger debate over what state regulators can do to ensure community solar is universally accessible. Particularly as these projects catch on with developers in Minnesota and nationwide, sensible policies must ensure equitable distribution of their benefits -- from reduced utility bills for subscribers to economic development in the communities they serve


The New 1,600 Megawatt Solar Program For Massachusetts Really Is SMART

September 14th, 2017 | by John Farrell

With nearly 1500 megawatts, Massachusetts has the seventh-greatest solar energy capacity in the country, enough to power a quarter-million homes. It has the second-most solar jobs, with over 14,500. Already in a leading position, Massachusetts in January developed a new incentive program to double its solar capacity to more than 3 gigawatts


Getting The Price Right For Local Wind & Solar

September 11th, 2017 | by John Farrell

A federal policy enacted nearly 40 years ago has breathed life into an ongoing argument at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission over utility opposition to a wind-solar hybrid project proposed in the rural city of Red Lake Falls.


Podcast: Thanks To Your Local Economy, Renewables Aren’t Going Anywhere

September 7th, 2017 | by John Farrell

In this episode, Christopher Mitchell, the director of ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks initiative, interviews John Farrell and Karlee Weinmann, researchers for ILSR’s Energy Democracy initiative on the prospects of renewable energy given President Trump’s executive orders undermining the Clean Power Plan.


Rural Solar At Risk As Co-ops Push For Less Oversight

September 5th, 2017 | by John Farrell

Minnesota’s governor recently vetoed anti-renewables legislation that threatens rural solar development, but the bill’s likely resurgence means the state remains among a growing crop of Midwestern states facing the prospect of heavy-handed limitations on solar growth.


Video: A Solar Leader Emerges In Rural Iowa

August 24th, 2017 | by John Farrell

It seems counter-intuitive that a conservative farming community in southeastern Iowa is home to some of the most expansive solar generation in the US. But that’s exactly what’s happening in the area served by Farmers Electric Cooperative, the rural utility whose enterprising leader, Warren McKenna, saw renewables as a gateway to economic vitality.


Arkansas Utility Leads On Energy & Broadband

August 17th, 2017 | by John Farrell

Ouachita Electric Cooperative, nestled deep in south-central Arkansas, is an unlikely innovator in a pair of industries struggling to adapt to shifting market dynamics: electricity and broadband.



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