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John Farrell

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at
John Farrell

John Farrell is the Director of Democratic Energy at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and widely known as the guru of distributed energy.

John is best known for his vivid illustrations of the economic and environmental benefits of local ownership of decentralized renewable energy.

He’s the author of Energy Self-Reliant States, a state-by-state atlas of renewable energy potential highlighted in the New York Times,  showing that most states don’t need to look outside their borders to meet their electricity needs.  He’s also written extensively on the economic advantages of Democratizing the Electricity System, published a rich interactive map on solar grid parity, and polished the policies (like Minnesota’s solar energy standard) necessary to support locally owned renewable energy development.

John provides data-rich presentations on local renewable energy for the common citizen, and has wowed crowds from Presque Isle, Maine to San Francisco to Berlin.  He’s been the keynote at conferences like Solar Energy Focus in Washington, DC, and also inspired citizens in Boulder, CO, prior to their successful effort to seize more control over their energy future.

John’s work appears most regularly on Energy Self-Reliant States, a blog with timely and compelling analysis of current energy discussions and policy.  The posts are frequently enriched by charts, translating the complex economics of energy into tools for advancing local energy ownership and they are regularly syndicated at Grist, CleanTechnica, and Renewable Energy World.

Reach John on Twitter @johnffarrell or by email at

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  • Therese Tetzel

    Hi John, I just found your website and was amazed to read your purpose. I have been a part of the power industry since 1997 and have a good understanding of it. I love it and I am thrilled at the level of change within it. However, since the advent of renewable energy and the internet 2.0 I too have been saying “democratize” and thought I was the lone voice in the wilderness. Lucky for me I found your organization. Do you have followers in the Dallas area? I would love to have a chat with you about projects I am working on and get your opinion.

    Democratize, decentralize and distribute is the basis for a business model I am working on and I believe this concept is a match for the mindset and social structure going forward especially in the newest generation in the US.


  • Peter Walker

    I enjoyed your article, “A $48 billion opportunity for US electric customers.” My biggest complaint about the Report might be the size of the economic effects. I think $48 billion is much too small. Between jobs created, the advantages of distributed energy, the savings for consumers which can be spent elsewhere, long-term lower energy costs to the overall economy, and the environmental benefits, you vastly underestimate the economic benefits.

    Solar and wind energy are now at the point where they compete directly with fossil fuel alternatives. Efforts need to be made to bring these sustainable energy technologies forward as quickly as possible.

    Which brings me to the reason why I and writing you. Do you know of any public service organizations, similar to yours, whose primary purpose is to combat utilities that discourage sustainable energy by restricting electrical transmission over their power lines? Would this be considered a restraint of free trade issue? If so, maybe it’s time these monopolies be challenged in the courts. I am looking for others that have similar interests in changing the current status quo.

    • John

      Peter, an electric utility is regulated by the state government. There are technical reasons why the utility are combating policies like net metering as well as financial. Managing a transmission and distribution system is not a simple as you may think. Adding customer owned generation is a good idea, however, it will only make managing an electrical grid more complicated. That means more staff, smarter computers and in some cases better electrical infrastructure. Who is suppose to pay? Is the utility suppose to absorb those costs? That’s why they want solar to pay a bit more because they end making the process of managing the grid more difficult.