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Director, Energy Democracy Initiative
Institute for Local Self-Reliance
A federal policy enacted nearly 40 years ago has breathed life into an ongoing argument at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission over utility opposition to a wind and solar hybrid project proposed in the rural city of Red Lake Falls. The law, known as PURPA, was designed to promote local renewable generation by requiring utilities — even monopolies — to buy their electricity from qualified distributed and renewable facilities that can provide power at prices that roughly match the utilities’ “avoided cost” for electricity. But even after all this time, questions loom over exactly how to calculate that value. Utilities… [more]View Insight
As we continue to debate what the future mix of grid generation will be, we should also critique projections of grid demand that suggest the largest share of future generation will continue to derive primarily from central power sources. Distributed resources like on-site wind, solar, and energy efficiency are filling U.S. power needs in greater amounts every year while also offsetting central generation requirements. The structure of our system is changing in ways many policymakers and investors are not seeing. It would be a mistake to underestimate the potential of clean energy. In 2015, the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) figures… [more]View Insight