Energy Self-Reliant States: Why Aren’t Rural Electric Cooperatives Champions of Local Clean Power?

Jay Owen Community Development Solutions, Resource Efficiency

I spoke yesterday at the Illinois Renewable Energy Fair in Oregon, IL, and the presentation will be posted shortly on

Being out in rural Illinois made me wonder, Why Aren’t Rural Electric Cooperatives Champions of Local Clean Power?  A few thoughts shared on the blog…

Keep your energy local!

P.S. You may have noticed a lack of new podcasts.  We’re taking the summer off and writing instead.  Look for more Local Energy Rules in September.

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Why Aren’t Rural Electric Cooperatives Champions of Local Clean Power?

When it comes to ownership, there are few better structures for keeping a community’s wealth local than a cooperative. So why is it that America’s rural electric cooperatives are tethered to dirty, old coal-fired power plants instead of local-wealth generating renewable power? There are a lot of answers to this question, but it might start…


Solar garden

A Few Weeds in Minnesota Decision to Allow Community Solar Gardens to GrowLate last week, Minnesota regulators made a decision that may finally allow community solar projects to move forward (for Xcel Energy customers) in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. However, the Public Utilities Commission decision also highlighted the shortcomings of the legislature’s distributed solar policy adopted in 2013. What was missing? Minnesota’s increasingly well-known “value of…



Can PUCs Lead on Distributed Renewable Energy?If you’re like most renewable energy advocates that have interacted with a Public Utilities Commission, you probably don’t think they’re a repository of progressive policy toward distributed renewable energy.  In general, you’re right. But it’s worth sharing a few, promising examples of Public Utilities Commissions around the U.S. that are actually making things better for…


graph of ownership type for residential solar

Is Solar Ownership Poised for a Comeback?With “no money down” and “zero maintenance” to attract homeowners, solar leasing has become the overwhelming favorite for residential solar installations. And with the complexity of tax incentives, rebates, and financing, it’s hard to find fault with homeowners that choose this low-effort option. But giving up ownership means giving up a big share of the…


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A Solar Ownership Comeback? John Farrell Talks with Arnie Arnesen on WNHNA month ago I wrote about the potential for a comeback for solar ownership (instead of leasing) as the economics and options for ownership continue to improve. Yesterday I discussed this trend in depth on “The Attitude” with Arnie Arnesen on WNHN. Subscribe to the podcast here, or listen by clicking the player below:  


Big boot stomping

California’s Reserve Fund Won’t Lift the FHFA Boot From PACE’s NeckEarlier this year, the state of California announced a $10 million loan-loss reserve to solve the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s severe restrictions on using property-tax based financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy on residential property. It’s a great concept, but evidence from on of California’s best property assessed clean energy (PACE) programs suggests the reserve…


Democratic Energy on Tour

Staff from the Democratic Energy initiative (me) speak at events around the country. Check out the upcoming and past events on ILSR’s speakers page, or see if you’re on the list below:

September 2014 – On the internets
John Farrell will reprise his presentation on the value of solar.  Keep an eye out for an invite!

August 24, 2014 (1:00pm) – Oregon, IL
John Farrell will present at the Illinois Renewable Energy Fair

May 29, 2014 – On the internets
John Farrell hosted a webinar on the value of solar policy and its implications for community-based solar.  Over 60 people tuned in to the presentation, which will be posted soon on the Energy Self-Reliant States blog.

May 16, 2014 – Minneapolis, MN
John Farrell presented Midwest Solar Market: Hot or Not? at the Midwest Solar Expo.

May 8, 2014 – Talk Solar podcast
John Farrell joined Beth Bond of Speaking of Green to talk about the state of solar and likely how Minnesota’s new value of solar mixes with other policies to make a brighter solar future: listen in.

May 7, 2014 – This Week In Energy podcast (11 AM CDT)
John Farrell joined host Bob Tregilus to talk about Value of Solar, Solar Leasing & Energy Democracy: listen in.

March 12, 2014 – Alexandria, MN
John Farrell presented on how democratic energy fits the rural electric philosophy at Electrons on the Run, a mini-conference on the future of the U.S. energy system at Alexandria Technical and Community College.

February 1, 2014 – Kansas City, MO
John Farrell was a special guest speaker at the Missouri Solar Energy Industries Association annual conference, and his presentation, Show Me Solar, received rave reviews.

January 18, 2014 – Northfield, MN
John Farrell participated in a city-wide Climate Summit and presented on Local Climate Solutions.

November 8, 2013 – Decorah, IA
John Farrell presented to the opening plenary session the 5th Conference of the Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability at Luther College, speaking about the intersection of campus sustainability and the shift toward communities taking control of their energy future.  View the presentation and read the remarks.

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The Institute for Local Self-Reliance launched the Energy Self-Reliant States blog in 2010 to provide in-depth analysis of distributed renewable energy issues, often in a visual format for the average citizen.

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