John Farrell

John Farrell is the author of Energy Self-Reliant States and a senior researcher at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, where he focuses on renewable energy policy.

Ontario feed-in tariff prices drop, Germans pay much less

A version of this post originally appeared on Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Ontario just completed a revision of their landmark feed-in tariff program and rates for renewable electricity generation and prices fell sharply: 30 percent for solar and 15 percent for wind power. This continues a trend of falling costs for renewable energy around the world. As a bit of background, Ontario’s feed-in tariff gives wind and solar producers (and many other technologies) long-term contracts at premium prices to support deployment of new renewable energy. In a unique marriage of environmental and economic …

Energy Policy

Solar policy can advance (or delay) grid parity by a decade

A version of this post originally appeared on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. In their interactive graphic, Bloomberg Energy Finance calls solar grid parity (when electricity from solar costs less than grid power) the “golden goal.”  It’s an excellent illustration of how the right energy policy can help a nation go gold on solar or wallow in metallurgical obscurity. In the case of the U.S., it may mean delaying grid parity by eight years. In the screenshot below, countries in purple have reached the golden goal in 2012 based on the quality of their solar resource and the cost of …

Why ‘passive activities’ may be clean energy’s biggest hurdle

Cross-posted from Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. If you care about the future of the American renewable energy industry, you need to learn what the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) calls “passive activities.”  Because these important rules mean that as long as the U.S. relies on the tax code to provide renewable energy incentives, renewable energy can only grow as fast as Wall Street tax equity and it will remain difficult to have locally-owned renewable energy projects. The “passive activities” issue has to do with an important IRS determination to prevent wealthy people from creating …

Energy Policy

Building codes: Small rules that help homeowners save big on energy

Illinois is poised to adopt the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code. New building codes can make a big dent in carbon emissions, and save residents money.

Energy Policy

Trade in the 20th century electric grid. Don’t trade off local energy

The future of U.S. energy policy is not about trade-offs, but rather a chance to trade in an obsolete paradigm for a local clean energy future.

More evidence of a distributed solar sweet spot

If the cost of electricity were the only factor in energy discussions, we’d probably have a lot more coal and a lot less renewable energy. But the truth is that renewable energy can compete on cost and distributed renewable energy has a lot more value beyond just electricity, as illustrated in this one facet in this brief examination by the Clean Coalition.

Business & Technology

How EPA helps big corporations greenwash

EPA's Green Power Partnership, which recognizes companies using renewable energy, makes Walmart look good while ignoring more significant efforts by much smaller entities.

Solar Power

How distributed solar can reduce electricity prices

This post originally appeared on Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s New Rules Project. What if installing more solar could reduce electricity prices? It’s already happening in Germany, world leader in solar power, and it’s likely to happen in the U.S., too. Right now the idea of solar reducing electricity prices seems silly.  After all, when subsidies aren’t factored in, the cost of residential solar will be higher than residential retail electricity prices in all but three states until after 2016. But solar has two key factors in its favor:

Solar Power

Solar grid parity 101 — and why you should care

We're rapidly approaching solar grid parity, the tipping point when installing solar power will cost less than buying electricity from the grid.

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