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northfield climate summit 2014-01 web
Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jan 27, 2014

Local Climate Solutions

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

What can an individual city or town do to fight climate change? A lot! View these slides from a presentation by ILSR’s Director of Democratic Energy John Farrell to the Northfield Climate Summit on January 18, 2014, to see what one small Minnesota town has done, what other steps it can take as part of… Continue reading

City Power Play - cover
Featured Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 5 Comments | Updated on Oct 7, 2013

City Power Play: 8 Practical Local Energy Policies to Boost the Economy

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

placeholderThe economy has stalled and so has the war on climate change. But dozens of cities are creating jobs and cleaner energy using their own power.

Download the report

Keeping Energy Dollars Local

  • Chattanooga, TN, is adding over $1 billion to its local economy in the next decade by implementing one of the most advanced smart grids and delivering the fastest internet service in the country with its municipal utility.
  • Sonoma County, CA, has created nearly 800 local jobs retrofitting over 2,000 properties for energy savings with city-based financing.
  • Babylon, NY, has re-purposed a solid waste fund to finance retrofits for 2% of the city’s homes, saving residents an average of $1,300 a year on their energy bills at minimal cost to the city.

Eight Powerful, Practical Policies

This report details eight practical energy policies cities can and have used to their economic advantage: Continue reading

CUB Retail Electricity Suppliers Report Card
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Feb 28, 2013

Three Unequal Options for Local Energy Control

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

If we ignore self-generation, three policies are at the center of increasing local control of energy: deregulation (“customer choice”), municipal aggregation (“city choice”), and municipal utilities (“city ownership”).  Two recent articles highlight the relative value of these policies quite clearly. The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) of Illinois, a nonprofit ratepayer advocacy organization, just released a… Continue reading

Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Oct 18, 2012

More Clean Energy for Minneapolis

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

Click here for a more detailed article. ILSR Senior Researcher John Farrell presents to a big crowd at “Green Ideas and Ham,” a breakfast policy forum in Minneapolis, about the opportunity for the city to dramatically increase its control over its energy future.  In a short time, the city’s monopoly energy contracts with its electric… Continue reading

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 2 Comments | Updated on Aug 23, 2012

California County’s PACE Program Could Get Feisty with FHFA

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/california-countys-pace-program-feisty-fhfa/

Does a Riverside County, CA, residential energy financing program put thousands of homeowners on a collision course with the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)? In a proposed rule-making, the FHFA has suggested that Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) policies represent a threat to the safety and soundness of mortgages held by government-backed Fannie Mae and Freddie… Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 3 Comments | Updated on Jun 15, 2012

FHFA Finally Releases PACE Ruling: Did They Repent?

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/fhfa-finally-releases-pace-ruling-repent/

After effectively suspending residential PACE energy efficiency and renewable energy municipal financing programs in 2010 and then being taken to federal court and required to do a revised rule making, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released its revised ruling on PACE programs [pdf] today. Did they repent from their 2010 assertion that PACE presented… Continue reading

stone arch and power line
Article, ILSR Press Room filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by admin | No Comments | Updated on May 23, 2012

An Energy Switch, Waiting to be Flipped

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/energy-switch-waiting-flipped/

Minneapolis Star Tribune – May 23, 2012 Minnesota spends more than $20 billion a year on energy — primarily importing polluting fossil fuels — and the state’s utilities typically lobby against decreasing our dependency. This hampers our economy and harms our environment. Fortunately, cities don’t have to rely on the Legislature to stand up for… Continue reading

gchart-usa-germany-household-electricity-consumption
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 5 Comments | Updated on May 11, 2012

Could the U.S. Cut Household Electricity Use by Two-Thirds?

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/u-s-cut-household-electricity-two-thirds/

Your mind-blowing chart of the day, courtesy of Arne Jungjohann at the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Source for U.S. use; source for German use; used U.S. average household size of 2.6. Continue reading

Article, Rule filed under Energy | Written by admin | No Comments | Updated on Jan 30, 2012

Municipal Financing for Renewables and Efficiency

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/rule/municipal-financing-for-renewables-and-efficiency/

With state enabling legislation, cities and counties are being given the authority to establish municipal financing programs for clean energy and energy efficiency investments in their communities. Commonly referred to as property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing, it allows homeowners and businesses to implement dramatic improvements in efficiency and/or renewable energy and repay those investments over a long-term via a special property tax assessment or via a utility bill. Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Nov 4, 2011

Commercial PACE Surges Ahead With Financing for Efficiency and Local Renewables

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/commercial-pace-surges-ahead-financing-efficiency-and-local-renewables/

Energy efficient roofing materials installed at a building at NNSA's Pantex PlantProperty-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing launched three years ago with great promise.  The premise was simple: pay for building energy efficiency and on-site renewable energy with long-term property tax assessments, aligning payback periods and financing terms.  The residential program’s rapid expansion came to a screeching halt in mid-2010 when the Federal Housing Finance Agency told lenders that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would not buy mortgages with PACE assessments on them.

Commercial PACE was left alive, and programs for business and industry are finally getting scale. 

In September, the Carbon War Room announced a business consortium would provide $650 million in financing for commercial energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements for two regions: Sacramento, CA, and Miami, FL.  San Francisco announced a similar program in October, with $100 million in private funding.  For comparison, the largest operational PACE program to date in Sonoma County, CA, has completed $50 million in retrofits. 

An interesting difference in the new programs is that they inject private capital into PACE programs that were often envisioned as publicly financed (e.g. using municipal revenue bonds).  It’s a welcome development, however, since public sector programs had grown slowly – if at all – since the FHFA decision to curtail residential financing.

The opportunity in commercial PACE alone is enormous.  The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory estimates that building energy consumption could be cut by 15-20% in the United States with the right technologies and tools. Since buildings represent 40% of energy use, beefed up commercial PACE activity could be a big step in the right direction.

For more on the residential program and attempts to revive it, visit PACENOW.org.

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