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About John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Self-Reliant States and Communities program at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he focuses on energy policy developments that best expand the benefits of local ownership and dispersed generation of renewable energy. More

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virtual net metering policies October 2013
Article, Rule filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 1 Comment | Updated on Aug 17, 2012

Virtual Net Metering

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/virtual-net-metering/

Net metering is a common distributed renewable energy policy in the United States, allowing individuals to “turn back” their meter (and reduce their electric bill) by generating on-site electricity.  But utility accounting systems typically prevent people from sharing the output from a single, common solar or wind project. Virtual (or group or neighborhood) net metering… Continue reading

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 3 Comments | Updated on Aug 16, 2012

Colorado’s Community Solar Program Allots 9 MW in 30 Minutes

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/colorados-community-solar-program-allots-9-mw-30-minutes/

When you subtract out shady roofs, renters, and other factors, only about 25% of Americans have a place to install solar power.  With the high upfront cost of a complete system, the potential solar universe shrinks further. That changes with “community solar.” After a long wait on the state’s Public Utilities Commission to finalize the… Continue reading

archaic utility rules barriers infographic ILSR
Featured Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 13 Comments | Updated on Aug 8, 2012

How Archaic Utility Rules Stall Local Solar [Infographic]

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/archiac-utility-rules-stall-local-solar-infographic/

Many people expect that solar power will dramatically expand once it bursts through the cost barrier and becomes less expensive than grid electricity.  But archaic utility rules can effectively cap local solar development at just 15% of peak demand.  Fortunately, pioneering states like Hawaii and California are exploring ways to lift the cap and bring… Continue reading

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Aug 3, 2012

Comparing Residential Solar Ownership to a Solar Lease

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/comparing-residential-solar-ownership-solar-lease/

It’s a case study of solar in Ithaca, NY, but it provides a good framework for comparing leasing to ownership in any place in the U.S. Solar Economics in Ithaca, NY Comparing solar ownership to a solar lease can be tricky.  The following analysis examines the value of owning a 5 kW solar PV system… Continue reading

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Article, ILSR Press Room filed under Energy | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jul 30, 2012

Hawaii Drives Past Solar Power Cost Barrier, Surprised by Additional Roadblocks

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/hawaii-drives-solar-power-cost-barrier-surprised-additional-roadblocks/

The report finds that while the economics of solar continue to improve, a number of unexpected barriers have arisen. Homes often need electrical upgrades and local governments struggle to keep up with permit requests. Utilities are also reluctant to give up their market dominance, enforcing antiquated rules about grid interconnection that can add significant expense, delay, or even kill projects entirely. Continue reading

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Featured Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 10 Comments | Updated on Jul 26, 2012

Hawaiian Sunblock: Solar Facing Unexpected Barriers Despite Low Cost

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/hawaiian-sunblock-solar-facing-unexpected-barriers-cost/

First in the U.S., Hawaii residents and businesses can install solar power – without incentives – for less than the cost of grid electricity.  But as local Earthjustice lawyer Isaac Moriwake notes, “the gates of heaven do not open just because solar is cheap.”  Instead, a number of unexpected barriers have kept the solar market… Continue reading

average wind size united states
Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jul 24, 2012

U.S. Wind Project Size

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/u-s-wind-project-size/

Big dreams for renewable energy often goad people into imagining big wind projects, with hundreds of turbines.  But lots of smaller projects are just as likely to add up to big numbers. Counting wind projects from 1999-2010 (based on data from LBNL’s excellent Wind Technologies Market report) the average size of an American wind project… Continue reading

average solar size united states
Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 3 Comments | Updated on Jul 23, 2012

Average Size of U.S. Solar Installations: Small

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/average-size-u-s-solar-installations-small/

Big dreams for renewable energy often goad people into imagining big solar projects, with acres of panels.  But lots of smaller projects are just as likely to add up to big numbers. Counting solar projects from California and New Jersey (which together make up half the U.S. solar market), the average size of an American… Continue reading

LEAN CCA presentation jf ILSR
Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jul 17, 2012

Local Energy Choice with Community Choice Aggregation

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/local-energy-choice-community-choice-aggregation/

Local Energy Choice with Community Choice Aggregation from John Farrell A presentation by ILSR Senior Researcher John Farrell to the National Strategy Meeting of the Local Energy Aggregation Network (February 2012) on the potential for community choice aggregation policy to increase local clean energy development.  For more on this policy, you may also like our… Continue reading

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Featured Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 7 Comments | Updated on Jul 10, 2012

Why We Pay Double for Solar in America (But Won’t Forever)

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/why-pay-double-solar-america/

Update 12/21/12: Corrected chart.  Overhead and Sales Tax had been switched in the German data column. I often get flak when I publish research on the cost trajectory for solar (e.g. my Rooftop Revolution report estimates 100 million Americans reaching grid parity by 2021).  About half think I’m too conservative, and half think I’m too… Continue reading