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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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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Feb 14, 2012

EPA’s Green Power Partnership Helps Big Corporations Greenwash

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/epas-green-power-partnership-helps-big-corporations-greenwash/

Update 4/23/13: EPA has updated its rankings to reflect green power as a percentage of total electricity use, accurately portraying Walmart’s paltry 4% renewable energy. While I generally have nothing but praise for the Environmental Protection Agency, their Green Power Partnership program falls short of the agency’s usual standard.  In particular, the program – providing… Continue reading

U.S. Installed Solar PV Capacity 2004-2011
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 1 Comment | Updated on Feb 2, 2012

How Distributed Solar Can Reduce Electricity Prices

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/how-distributed-solar-can-reduce-electricity-prices/

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. Continue reading

Sundial
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Feb 1, 2012

Electricity Priced by the Hour Boosts Distributed Solar Value by a Third or More

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/electricity-priced-hour-boosts-distributed-solar/

Updated 2/1/12 because I underestimated how the tiered pricing worked.  Thanks to bkarney at Renewable Energy World for the comment. Last week I wrote about the time-of-use pricing scheme that PG&E offers in San Francisco, and how solar power is worth 14% more compared to a standard flat-rate electricity plan.  In reality, it’s 36% or… Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jan 20, 2012

Do You ‘Like’ Energy Self-Reliant States?

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/do-you-energy-self-reliant-states/

We’ve joined Facebook, so if that’s a place where you want to hear about democratizing the energy system and energy self-reliance, come on over and ‘like’ us there.

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jan 20, 2012

Distributed Renewable Energy as the 3rd Industrial Revolution

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/distributed-renewable-energy-3rd-industrial-revolution/

I just came across an interesting interview that radio host Diane Rehm did with Jeremy Rifkin, author of The Third Industrial Revolution.  The excerpts below lay out his vision for an energy future that is decentralized and democratized. (He also notes that this vision has just emerged in the past two to four years, but we’ve been around since 1974…).

The book is organized around five pillars of the third industrial revolution:

Pillar one, renewable energy. Pillar two, your buildings become your own power plants. Pillar three, you have to store it with hydrogen. And then Pillar four…the internet communication revolution completely merges with new distributing energies to create a nervous system…Pillar five is electric plug-in transport…

when distributed Internet communication starts to organize distributed energies, we have a very powerful third industrial revolution that could change everything…

You can find some renewable energy in every square inch of the world. So how do we collect them? … If renewable energies are found in every square inch of the world in some frequency or proportion, why would we only collect them in a few central points? …

[it] jump starts the European economy, that’s the idea. Millions and millions and millions of jobs. Thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises have to convert 190 million buildings to power plants over the next 40 years…

That’s the vision: a decentralized energy system can be democratized with local ownership, spreading the production of energy and the economic benefits as widely as the renewable energy resource itself.

 

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jan 17, 2012

Should Solar Grid Parity Include Tax Credits?

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/should-solar-grid-parity-include-tax-credits/

In recent weeks, I wrote a Solar Grid Parity 101 and published an animated map of the year when major U.S. metro areas will reach solar grid parity.  The most frequent criticism was “you didn’t include tax incentives!” 

Yes, there is a 30% federal tax credit on the table until 2016 (barring Republican control of Congress and the White House) and it makes a substantial difference. Mouse over the following map to see the impact of the federal Investment Tax Credit on solar grid parity in 2016.

 

Solar Grid Parity

 

My one thought: if the ITC expires as scheduled, the 2017 map will have a lot more red than the 2016 one if we measure grid parity with incentives.

But you’ve seen the difference (from 3 states to 21 states with grid parity!), now vote in the comments:

Should the tax credit be included in a calculation of grid parity? Why or why not?

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Cars at Tesla Dealership
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jan 13, 2012

How to Sell Electric Cars

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/how-sell-electric-cars/

Maggie Koerth-Baker wrote an excellent essay on the value of electric vehicles (a rebuttal to the idea that Americans hate EVs), but this paragraph could stand alone as the “reason to buy an electric car.”

3) Screw you, electric cars are fun to drive. 

Look, I know this is purely subjective. But “not fun,” Johnson? Seriously? Have you gotten a chance to floor the accelerator on a Nissan Leaf on a stretch of empty one-way street? Because I have. And it’s hella fun. Electric motors don’t shift gears the way internal combustion engines do. Which means, when you accelerate, you just keep accelerating, without the slow-down that accompanies each shift up. Which means you’re slammed back in your seat like you’re riding a motherf***ing rocket ship to the moon. Only it’s silent. How is that not awesome? If I buy an electric car, I am going to get sooooo many speeding tickets**. I think that’s pretty much the all-American definition of a fun car.

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Advanced Electric Meter
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 1 Comment | Updated on Jan 12, 2012

How Electricity Pricing Can Boost Distributed Solar – Part 1

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/how-electricity-pricing-can-boost-distributed-solar-part-1-0/

Note: This is a revision of the same post from last week, with an updated time-of-use pricing plan from Los Angeles. What if electricity cost more when the sun was shining? Many utilities are using new electronic “smart meters” to adjust the price of electricity as often as every 15 minutes, to reflect supply and… Continue reading

House with rooftop solar panels
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 7 Comments | Updated on Jan 12, 2012

Solar Grid Parity 101

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/solar-grid-parity-101/

Solar grid parity is considered the tipping point for solar power, when installing solar power will cost less than buying electricity from the grid.  It’s also a tipping point in the electricity system, when millions of Americans can choose energy production and self-reliance over dependence on their electric utility. But this simple concept conceals a… Continue reading

chart-2
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 1 Comment | Updated on Jan 11, 2012

Democratic energy policy means strong public support for renewables

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/democratic-energy-policy-means-strong-public-support-renewables/

Conducted by market research institute Forsa on behalf of municipal utilities in Germany, the survey found that 61 percent of Germans are willing to pay more for their power if the extra cost helps ramp up the share of renewables. Public acceptance even extends to acceptance of wind turbines “in my backyard”; 54 percent of those surveyed said they would find it “good” or “very good” if a wind turbine were set up nearby.

That’s the German feed-in tariff at work…

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