On November 18, 2010, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners approved a measure that creates a Community Advantage Banking Program, under which the county will invest $10 million of its funds with qualifying local community banks and local credit unions. The investment is expected to expand local lending, particularly to small businesses. Continue reading
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The original edition of Community Solar Power received a lot of attention, for which we at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance are very grateful. The grading system we used for community solar projects was of particular interest, especially our offer of higher scores for projects placed on rooftops rather than on the ground.
In particular, the excellent folks at the Clean Energy Collective (whose project is featured in this report) engaged us on the criteria we used for rooftop and ground-mounted solar power. After several in-depth conversations, we offer this revision to Community Solar Power and to the grades we provided for solar project location. We think that our revised grading system better reflects the advantages of distributed renewable energy as well as the best efforts of community solar projects to provide their participants with the best value.
With its feed-in tariff, the Canadian province of Ontario is set to become the leading community renewable energy center in North America.
In an Oct. 12, 2010 report, [Ontario Power Authority] said that it has signed contracts for 264 megawatts of community-owned projects, and another 120 megawatts of projects owned by Ontario’s aboriginal peoples. The contracts represent 16 percent of Ontario’s 2,500 megawatts of feed-in tariff contracts to date.
No other jurisdiction in North America has made such a concerted effort as Ontario has to guarantee that a portion of the new renewable generating capacity to be built will be owned by its own citizens and native peoples through the province’s innovative feed-in tariff program.
This is in addition to Ontario’s microFIT program (a small renewable energy project program under the umbrella of feed-in tariff programs), which assures connection for homeowners and farmers wanting to generate electricity with solar panels for sale to the grid. There are 20,000 applications for microFIT contracts.
It’s noteworthy that despite Ontario’s success, Europeans still have significant leads based on their longstanding feed-in tariff policies.
…One-half of all wind generation in Germany, or more than 12,000 megawatts, is owned by local investors. The percentage of local ownership is even higher in Denmark and the Netherlands.
But North Americans are learning. Vermont recently adopted a feed-in tariff, and the several other U.S. states and the Canadian province of Nova Scotia are also considering it.
Nova Scotia begins hearings Nov. 8, 2010 on the province’s community feed-in tariff program. The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board will determine feed-in tariffs for large and small wind, biomass, and tidal power that will go into effect on April 4, 2011. Projects in the 100 megawatt program are set aside for Nova Scotians.
When author Michael Pollan spoke at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in mid-October, it’s a safe bet his hosts didn’t offer fresh cherries to the “local foods” advocate. As a locavore — someone who tries to eat only food grown within a 100-mile radius of them — Pollan would have likely reacted to cherries like a vampire reacts to garlic. At this time of year, any fresh cherries in northern California would most likely have come from orchards in Chile, roughly 6,000 miles to the southeast.
Yet, when Pollan was handed the microphone he probably did not turn to David Wehner, Dean of the college hosting the event, and ask, “By the way, Dean – Where did the electricity powering this thing come from?”
Maybe he should have.
At least some of that electricity had just completed a 1,000 mile journey. The energy was converted from wind to electricity at the Klondike generating facility just south of the Washington-Oregon border. The electricity traveled over power lines down the entire state of Oregon, then traversing three-quarters of the length of California to arrive at the microphone in Pollan’s hand at Cal Poly. So, does it matter that this electricity began life 1,000 miles from the microphone it powered?
That question is at the heart of the report, “Energy Self-Reliant States,” published in October by the New Rules Project. The report shows why “local energy” matters and then looks at the renewable energy potential of each state.
Small local and regional banks provide the majority of loans for small businesses. Expanding the nation’s network of small banks and preventing further consolidation in the banking industry is critical to ensuring access to credit for small businesses and new entrepreneurs. Continue reading
There are two ways that residents of a community can jointly capitalize a new local business. One is to start a cooperative, a business that is owned by its member-customers, who provide the necessary capital in the form of member dues, govern the business democratically, and receive a share of any surplus or profits. Another approach is to create a community-owned store that is structured as a local stock corporation. Continue reading
A growing number of states and cities are considering or enacting policies that move government bank accounts to small community banks and credit unions. These bills have two primary motivations: To withdraw public funds from big banks that have imposed high fees on customers and engaged in predatory mortgage lending, redlining, and other practices that… Continue reading
States and municipalities have long evaluated the impact that large retail development projects may have on such things as traffic and the environment. Some are now adopting policies that require that the economic and fiscal impact of these developments be considered as well.(Economic impacts include the effect on local businesses, jobs, and wages. Fiscal impact… Continue reading
In 2006, McCall, Idaho, enacted an ordinance that limits formula restaurants to only 10% of the total number of restaurants and limits formula retail businesses to no more than 10% of the total number of "like businesses" in town. Continue reading
On May 21, 2009, Vancouver passed an important resolution to encourage technological openness in the City. The city is committing to making more data available, which will encourage citizen oversight and understanding of what the city government is doing.
The city is committing to open/accessible data, open standards, and open source software (not by mandating it, but by mandating its consideration when replacing or acquiring new systems).