Our speakers explained how distributed wind and solar energy differs from centralized or base energy and how the coming energy revolution can democratize the electricity system. Following are brief descriptions of their work.
The Minnesota Solar Industries Association promotes solar manufacturing in Minnesota. Lynn Hinkle contributed to the strong clean energy provisions in the recently passed Property Assessed Clean Energy Law which allows property owners to finance solar, other renewable energy, energy efficiency, and electric vehicle plug-in improvements to their homes or businesses through voluntary property assessments. Under the new PACE law, Minnesota has the potential to significantly increase solar and other types of renewable energy in buildings across our state.
John Farrell watches developments in renewable energy not only in Minnesota, but also throughout our nation and worldwide. He reports them on his Energy Self Reliant States blog, which contains a broad range of information on wind and solar energy and effective ways to finance their development.
He has authored two insightful reports, "Democratizing the Electricity System" and "Energy Self Reliant States." Both are available for free download. Farrell states, "If renewable energy generation can be dispersed widely, then it should be locally owned whenever possible. With local ownership, the neighbors of energy generation are also the economic beneficiaries."
George Crocker has been an advocate on energy and environmental issues for decades. The North American Water Office's Wind Program promotes local community based wind development as a way to increase the deployment of wind power. NAWO has been involved as a formal intervenor in regulatory proceedings covering transmission line proposals in Minnesota and Wisconsin for many years including the recent Minnesota Dispersed Renewable Generation Transmission Study. Crocker has helped Native American communities to oppose storage of dry cask nuclear waste on tribal lands and has organized to promote environmental justice.