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.

The Democratizing Promise of Energy Storage

While energy storage is a small fraction of total power generation capacity, promising examples suggest that distributed energy storage could change the electricity system during the next decade as fundamentally as distributed renewable energy has …

Better Building Codes Save Bundles [Chart]

How much money could you and your neighbors save on energy? That depends a lot on the building code, which states (and sometimes cities) can use to set minimum standards for energy efficiency.  The U.S. Department …

Could Minnesota’s “Value of Solar” Make Everyone a Winner?

On Wednesday, Minnesota became the first state to allow utilities a new method of contracting with distributed solar producers, called the market-based “value of solar.” If adopted by utilities, it will fundamentally change the relationship …

Can a Novel City-Utility Partnership Green a Big City Grid?

In pursuit of a cleaner energy future last August, the city of Minneapolis came to the brink of putting a city-owned utility on the ballot. It was the culmination of a grassroots effort to get …

Five Reasons Solar’s Win Over Gas in Minnesota is Just the Beginning

Solar advocates were popping corks when a New Year’s Eve ruling by an administrative law judge in Minnesota said that distributed solar arrays were a more cost-effective resource than natural gas to meet Xcel Energy’s …

Are Electric Utilities Already Dead?

For the last six months, the energy news sphere (perhaps led by the Edison Electric Institute) has been rife with a discussion about the threat to the utility business from distributed energy like local solar, …

The #1 Solar Utility is in…Iowa?

It may be one of the oldest cooperative utilities in the country, but in the next six months, Farmers Electric Cooperative (FEC) of southeastern Iowa will be leading the nation in this 21st century energy …

Natural Gas isn’t a Bridge Fuel, it’s a Gateway Drug

In his State of the Union, President Obama added to the conventional wisdom that supplanting coal with natural gas will act as a bridge toward a climate solution. Unfortunately, gas is more of a gateway …

Who’s Your Energy Daddy?

For now it remains large, investor-owned utilities, and ostensibly locally-focused rural cooperatives and municipal utilities. But the energy landscape of today gives me uncomfortable reminders of the Athenian tragedy by Sophocles – the Oedipus tale. John Farrell, …

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