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John Farrell
John Farrell directs the Energy Self-Reliant States and Communities 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 latest 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 (, and articles are regularly syndicated on Grist, CleanTechnica, and Renewable Energy World.

Entries by John Farrell

Clean Power Plan: 50 Ways to Get More Clean, Local Energy

(0) Comments | Posted February 10, 2016 | 12:59 PM

This article originally posted at For timely updates, follow John Farrell on Twitter or get the Democratic Energy weekly update.

Six months ago, the Obama administration released the Clean Power Plan, requiring substantial greenhouse gas emissions reductions from the electricity sector....

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5 Reasons Utilities Are Hating on Their Solar-Producing Customers

(4) Comments | Posted August 25, 2015 | 9:36 AM


It seems crazy that electric companies would have anything against customers that spend their own money to reduce their energy use with clean, local solar power. But any number of utilities are slapping excessive fees and charges on customers with solar to slow...

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Dear Hawaii: Read Your Mail Before Your Utility Sells Out

(0) Comments | Posted June 16, 2015 | 10:53 AM

If your electricity--generated from imported oil--is the most expensive in the country and your solar resource is terrific, you'd expect your electric company to be making great strides toward renewable energy. On Hawai'i, the progress toward clean energy is in limbo, because island's largest electric utility--largely owned by islanders--is likely...

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The Hole in Brian Potts' WSJ Critique of the "Solar-Panel Craze"

(0) Comments | Posted May 26, 2015 | 11:27 AM

In his Sunday Wall Street Journal commentary on May 17, Brian Potts suggests that cost is the bottom line in the electric customer shift to solar, and that solar costs too much. But his defense of the utility's view of energy costs leaves a big hole in the...

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A $48 Billion Opportunity for U.S. Electric Customers

(1) Comments | Posted January 30, 2015 | 12:31 PM

Why are U.S. electric utilities facing $48 billion in revenue losses? Because their 20th-century business model, built around a centralized, command-and-control electric grid, is increasingly outdated in an age when we can produce power on individual rooftops from ubiquitous sunshine and manage energy individually on ubiquitous smartphones.

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On November 5th, Local Power Is on the Line

(1) Comments | Posted November 5, 2013 | 8:31 AM

In 2011, citizens of Boulder, Colo., opted to explore alternatives to their monopoly, corporate electric utility that pumps coal-fired energy into town and sucks millions in energy profits out. They won at the ballot box despite being outspent more than 10-to-1.

But today they have to win again...

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8 Practical Local Energy Policies to Boost the Economy

(0) Comments | Posted October 8, 2013 | 10:41 AM

The economy has stalled and so has the war on climate change. But a new report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance shows that dozens of cities are boosting their local economies while dramatically reducing greenhouse gases.

City Power Play: 8 Practical Local Energy Policies to Boost the...

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The One Thing Obama's Climate Policy Can't Leave Out

(26) Comments | Posted June 20, 2013 | 4:59 PM

When President Obama unveils his climate policy proposal in the coming days, he should focus on the one key element of successful climate and energy policy. It's not about utilities or incentives or numbers, it's about ownership.

Climate-protecting energy policy succeeds when communities can keep their energy dollars local by...

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Germany Has More Solar Power Because Everyone Wins

(1) Comments | Posted February 11, 2013 | 10:02 AM

Suddenly everyone knows about Germany's solar power dominance because Fox Newsheads made an ass of themselves, suggesting that the country is a sunny, tropical paradise. Most media folks have figured out that there are some monster differences in policy (e.g. a feed-in tariff), but then latch...

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No, Natural Gas Is Not America's Future

(142) Comments | Posted July 4, 2012 | 1:36 PM

In Thomas Friedman's latest column, he praises Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts because he "took one for the country." Friedman sees that "America today is poised for a great renewal" if only it can get some "big, centrist, statesmanlike leadership."

Logically, there would be some renewable (energy)...

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1.21 Gigawatts! U.S. Finally in the Clean Energy Game

(5) Comments | Posted June 22, 2012 | 6:32 PM

In the past five years, a new U.S. renewable energy policy has quietly grown more popular, enabling enough solar power (1.21 gigawatts!) to send Michael J. Fox Back to the Future. CLEAN programs -- Clean Local Energy Accessible Now -- have been adopted in 14 states and can...

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Campaign Energy Debate Missing the Biggest Opportunity

(3) Comments | Posted April 4, 2012 | 6:07 PM

While Republican presidential candidates lash at each other and the president over gas prices, they ignore what may be the most promising and startling part of our energy future: an abundance of cheap solar power. Within the next decade, 100 million Americans in the nation's largest cities will be able...

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Utility Fights Dirty in City's Battle for Clean Local Energy

(23) Comments | Posted October 14, 2011 | 4:10 PM

2011-10-12-images-insertlocalpowerboulder_1.jpgIn just three weeks, citizens of Boulder, CO, will vote on whether to begin a big, formal process to unplug from Xcel Energy's system and plug into local energy self-reliance. The vote to form a municipal electric utility could set a...

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Gas is Greener? Smearing Renewables Over Land Use Exposes Ignorance of Fossil Fuel Lovers

(1) Comments | Posted August 16, 2011 | 3:31 PM

A recent column in the New York Times suggested that land use is the greatest environmental problem facing new renewable energy. While getting the facts terribly wrong, it opens a door to talk about the advantages of distributed generation rather than large, central-station power generation. A prime example...

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New York City's Solar Windfall a Sign of America's Clean Energy Future

(3) Comments | Posted July 28, 2011 | 1:07 PM

A recently released solar map of New York City found enough room on building rooftops for solar panels to power half the city during hours of peak electricity use. Taking advantage of this solar windfall could allow New Yorkers to save millions on electricity costs and...

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