The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Brooke Gullikson 612-379-3815

New Report Argues for a Renewable Energy Policy That Puts Rural Communities First


The next 20 years could generate as much as $1 trillion in new investment in renewable energy in rural America. But as a new Ford Foundation-sponsored study by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) argues, current federal policies minimize the benefit of that investment to rural economies.

Existing federal policies encourage large-scale, absentee owned wind farms and biofuel plants, notes the report, Rural Power: Community-Scaled Renewable Energy and Rural Economic Development.

"By encouraging large-scale projects with significant transmission or transportation distances, federal policies reduce the potential for locally owned renewable energy projects," explains ILSR researcher John Farrell, co-author of the report. "The premise is that 'bigger is better,' but the evidence suggests that the benefits of building big are small. The benefits of building small, on the other hand, are quite large."

The report argues that locally owned wind and biofuels projects have a significantly higher beneficial local economic impact. They deliver more jobs than comparably sized absentee owned projects and return profits to local investors. And since they serve local and regional markets, minimize long-distance transportation.

Rural Power provides a policy roadmap for states and the federal government that would encourage modest-sized renewable energy facilities and local ownership.

Rural Power is available online at For more information, or to arrange an interview with John Farrell, please contact Brooke Gullikson.

The Institute's mission is to provide innovative strategies, working models and timely information to support environmentally sound and equitable community development. To this end, ILSR works with citizens, activists, policymakers and entrepreneurs to design systems, policies and enterprises that meet local or regional needs; to maximize human, material, natural and financial resources; and to ensure that the benefits of these systems and resources accrue to all local citizens.