Chelsea Green Publishing

Power from the People

Pages:288 pages
Book Art:Black and white photos
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603584098
Pub. Date August 13, 2012

Power from the People

How to Organize, Finance, and Launch Local Energy Projects

By Greg Pahl
Foreword by Van Jones

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
August 13, 2012


Over 90 percent of US power generation comes from large, centralized, highly polluting, nonrenewable sources of energy. It is delivered through long, brittle transmission lines, and then is squandered through inefficiency and waste. But it doesn't have to be that way. Communities can indeed produce their own local, renewable energy.

Power from the People explores how homeowners, co-ops, nonprofit institutions, governments, and businesses are putting power in the hands of local communities through distributed energy programs and energy-efficiency measures.

Using examples from around the nation - and occasionally from around the world - Greg Pahl explains how to plan, organize, finance, and launch community-scale energy projects that harvest energy from sun, wind, water, and earth. He also explains why community power is a necessary step on the path to energy security and community resilience - particularly as we face peak oil, cope with climate change, and address the need to transition to a more sustainable future.

This book - the second in the Chelsea Green Publishing Company and Post Carbon Institute's Community Resilience Series - also profiles numerous communitywide initiatives that can be replicated elsewhere.


Bookwatch Review-

Greg Pahl, an environmental activist who co-founded ACORN and served as an intelligence officer in the military during the Vietnam War, presents a "community resilience guide" for the local energy movement. He organizes the book into four progressive sections. The first consists of three essays that outline broad trends in energy usage and sourcing around the world, conservation and re-localization, and the need to rethink our relationship to energy. The second turns to household energy use and how to become more efficient or produce your own energy. The third and largest section explores alternative energy sources in different localities where they have been implemented. They include solar, wind, geothermal, and new fuel-sources for combustion. The very last chapter in that section turns to "exceptional community initiatives." Part four is Pahl's "call to action" and advice for preparing for action. A resource guide in the back includes energy programs, community development, and transportation. Community Van Jones provides a forward.

"Energy is at the heart of our 21st century economic-ecological crisis, but most writing on the subject is suffused either with immobilizing anticipation of doom or giddy wishful thinking. Here at last is a genuinely helpful energy book, one that's realistic and practical. If you want to actually do something about our energy future, here is where to start."--Richard Heinberg, senior fellow, Post Carbon Institute; author, The End of Growth

"Talk about down-and-dirty. Or rather, down-and-clean! Here's the actual useful detail on how to do the stuff that really needs doing. Read it and get to work!"--Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

"Greg Pahl's superb guide to community energy and how to unlock its potential is essential reading for anyone interested in the economic future of the place they live. As a Community Resilience Guide it is just that--a powerful guide showing how enhancing your community's resilience is a key form of economic development. And there is nowhere better to start than with rethinking our relationship to energy. You will find yourself waking up at 3 a.m. to scribble down the ideas and actions that this book has inspired. Make sure you keep a pen and paper by the bed."--Rob Hopkins, author of The Transition Companion

"Greg Pahl's Power from the People is an inspirational guide to the burgeoning community-power movement. His case studies of people who are making a difference are often tales of endurance and survival, but also powerful testaments to the human spirit. Bravo to Pahl and Power from the People for explaining how feed-in tariffs have produced a community-power revolution in Europe and how they can do the same here in North America."--Paul Gipe, author of Wind Power, advocate, and renewable energy industry analyst

ForeWord Reviews-
"The movement to source energy at the local level has boomed in recent years. Power from the People is a good guide for entrepreneurs looking to get in on the trend in an environmentally conscious way. Community energy has multiple facets, and this book covers them in a logical way. Part One discusses the various aspects of energy localization, including sections on “Energy and Our Communities” and “Rethinking Energy.” Part Two brings the discussion down to a hyper-local level with “Your Household’s Energy Resilience.” This section expounds on the point that there are several steps to energy efficiency, and the first is energy conservation. The book provides concrete advice for the homeowner seeking to reduce their energy consumption and then offers ways that a homeowner can reduce their dependence on outside power generation. It covers relatively unknown topics such as geoexchange and micro-hydro and also includes tips specifically for urban dwellers. From there, the discussion expands to include the entire community. Part Three addresses the parallels and differences between consumer energy and consumer agriculture. The book details important steps to setting up cooperatives, partnerships, and community investment in the project and expands to discussion of specific types of energy. Part Three also offers specific examples of communities around the country that have successfully relocalized many forms of energy. From the Burlington Cohousing Solor Project in Vermont to liquid biogas initiatives at Quad County Corn Processors in Iowa to geothermal power plants at the Oregon Institute of Technology, Power from the People gives real-life examples of the ways that a community can energize itself. Containing appendices with extensive endnotes, a virtual library of additional resources, and a glossary of common industry terms, this book provides a great starter guide for anyone pursuing a local energy project."

Booklist Reviews-
"Pahl’s alternative energy guidebook, The Citizen-Powered Energy Handbook (2007), urged homeowners to cut their dependence on fossil fuels and looked at communities, such as those in Asheville, North Carolina, and Sweden, where locally produced, renewable energy has already made a significant impact. With its focus on U.S.-based technologies and resources, this follow-up volume offers brass-tacks practical advice on the planning, organizing, and financing angles of implementing alternative power without waiting for big government to pitch in. In 14 impressively detailed and inspiring chapters, Pahl explains why our current reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable and provides concrete how and where examples of coops and neighborhoods in states from Oregon to Vermont, in which such energy sources as solar, wind, and geothermal are now supplementing and even supplanting conventional power. Along with an extensive guide to grass-roots power associations and online resources, Pahl gives sound advice on how individuals can conserve energy. For any private citizen or community looking to cut the cord from corporate utilities, Pahl’s manual delivers a cornucopia of ideas."


  • Winner - Atlas Awards, 2012 Accomplishments


Greg Pahl

Greg Pahl is the author of numerous books on energy and also writes for Mother Earth News and various other publications on biodiesel, wind power, wood heat, solar energy, heat pumps, electric cars, and a wide range of other topics related to living in a post-carbon world.

His books include Power from the People: How to Organize, Finance, and Launch Local Energy Projects (2012, Chelsea Green), Biodiesel: Growing a New Energy Economy (2005, Chelsea Green), Natural Home Heating: The Complete Guide to Renewable Energy Options (2003, Chelsea Green), The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Saving the Environment (2001, Macmillan/Alpha Books), and The Unofficial Guide to Beating Debt (2000, IDG Books).

Pahl has been involved in environmental issues for more than twenty-five years. In the 1970s he lived off the grid in a home in Vermont with a wind turbine atop an 80-foot tower that provided for his electrical needs. He is a founding member of the Vermont Biofuels Association as well as the Acorn Renewable Energy Co-op. Pahl attended the University of Vermont and was a military intelligence officer in the US Army during the Vietnam War.




By Greg Pahl

For anyone who is trying to keep up with the extremely rapid developments in the biodiesel industry, the second edition of Biodiesel: Growing a New Energy Economy is an invaluable aid. The breathtaking speed with which biodiesel has gained acceptance in the marketplace in the past few years has been exceeded only by the proliferation of biodiesel production facilities around the United States--and the world--only to confront new social and environmental challenges and criticisms.

The international survey of the biodiesel industry has been expanded from 40 to more than 80 countries, reflecting the spectacular growth of the industry around the world. This section also tracks the dramatic shifts in the fortunes of the industry that have taken place in some of these nations. The detailed chapters that cover the industry in the United States have also been substantially rewritten to keep abreast of its many new developments and explosive domestic growth.

An expanded section on small-scale, local biodiesel production has been added to better represent this small but growing part of the industry. Another new section has been added to more fully explore the increasingly controversial issues of deforestation and food versus fuel, as well as GMO crops. The second edition concludes with updated views on where the industry is headed in the years to come from some of its key players.

Available in: Paperback

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Greg Pahl, Bill McKibben

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Fossil-Fuel Free: Greg Pahl Explains His Wood-Pellet Boiler

Greg Pahl explains his Solar Domestic Hot Water System

Greg Pahl Saves Energy and Money with a Fireplace Insert

Greg Pahl Explores a Sustainable Green Home

How Geothermal Heat Pumps Work

How Geothermal Heat Pumps Work

Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS)

Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS)

AL GORE: Green Energy by 2018 (7/17 Speech)

AL GORE: Green Energy by 2018 (7/17 Speech)


Green Light at the End of the Tunnel

Green Light at the End of the Tunnel

By Anna Edey

Heat, electricity, transportation, food, wastewater, and solid-waste management—in ways that cause near-zero harm, reduce cost of living, increase security, freedom, and quality of life.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the way we are living is not sustainable. We perceive that our high-consumption lifestyles are contributing to ever more pollution of our air, water, and soil; ever more destruction of rain forests and mountains; more devastating hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and drought; and the depletion of soils and aquifers. Even our planet’s vast oceans are being degraded by overfishing, acidification from fossil fuels, and millions of tons of toxic trash.

Green Light at the End of the Tunnel contains some stunning information about the harm we caused by how we live, and some even more stunning information about solutions that are available today: truly sustainable, reliable solutions that can reduce harm and cost to nearly zero.

Anna Edey, author of Solviva, shows how homeowners can reduce by up to eighty percent the cost of electricity, driving, comfort, hot water and wastewater management, and produce or procure much of their food without the use of fossil fuels or pesticides—all while increasing food security and creating stronger local economies. It also contains fifty pages of unique Solviva designs drawn to scale and many more pages of conceptual drawings.

Available in: Paperback

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By Alan Weisman

Los Llanos—the rain-leached, eastern savannas of war-ravaged Colombia—are among the most brutal environments on Earth and an unlikely setting for one of the most hopeful environmental stories ever told. Here, in the late 1960s, a young Colombian development worker named Paolo Lugari wondered if the nearly uninhabited, infertile llanos could be made livable for his country’s growing population. He had no idea that nearly four decades later, his experiment would be one of the world’s most celebrated examples of sustainable living: a permanent village called Gaviotas.

In the absence of infrastructure, the first Gaviotans invented wind turbines to convert mild breezes into energy, hand pumps capable of tapping deep sources of water, and solar collectors efficient enough to heat and even sterilize drinking water under perennially cloudy llano skies. Over time, the Gaviotans’ experimentation has even restored an ecosystem: in the shelter of two million Caribbean pines planted as a source of renewable commercial resin, a primordial rain forest that once covered the llanos is unexpectedly reestablishing itself.

Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez has called Paolo Lugari “Inventor of the World.” Lugari himself has said that Gaviotas is not a utopia: “Utopia literally means ‘no place.’ We call Gaviotas a topia, because it’s real.”

Relive their story with this special 10th-anniversary edition of Gaviotas, complete with a new afterword by the author describing how Gaviotas has survived and progressed over the past decade.

Available in: Paperback

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Alan Weisman

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The Resilient Gardener

The Resilient Gardener

By Carol Deppe

Scientist/gardener Carol Deppe combines her passion for organic gardening with newly emerging scientific information from many fields — resilience science, climatology, climate change, ecology, anthropology, paleontology, sustainable agriculture, nutrition, health, and medicine. In the last half of The Resilient Gardener, Deppe extends and illustrates these principles with detailed information about growing and using five key crops: potatoes, corn, beans, squash, and eggs.

In this book you’ll learn how to:

•Garden in an era of unpredictable weather and climate change

•Grow, store, and use more of your own staple crops

•Garden efficiently and comfortably (even if you have a bad back)

•Grow, store, and cook different varieties of potatoes and save your own potato seed

•Grow the right varieties of corn to make your own gourmet-quality fast-cooking polenta, cornbread, parched corn, corn cakes, pancakes and even savory corn gravy

•Make whole-grain, corn-based breads and cakes using the author’s original gluten-free recipes involving no other grains, artificial binders, or dairy products

•Grow and use popbeans and other grain legumes

•Grow, store, and use summer, winter, and drying squash

•Keep a home laying flock of ducks or chickens; integrate them with your gardening, and grow most of their feed.

The Resilient Gardener is both a conceptual and a hands-on organic gardening book, and is suitable for vegetable gardeners at all levels of experience. Resilience here is broadly conceived and encompasses a full range of problems, from personal hard times such as injuries, family crises, financial problems, health problems, and special dietary needs (gluten intolerance, food allergies, carbohydrate sensitivity, and a need for weight control) to serious regional and global disasters and climate change. It is a supremely optimistic as well as realistic book about how resilient gardeners and their vegetable gardens can flourish even in challenging times and help their communities to survive and thrive through everything that comes their way — from tomorrow through the next thousand years. Organic gardening, vegetable gardening, self-sufficiency, subsistence gardening, gluten-free living.

Available in: Paperback

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7 Ways to Think Differently

7 Ways to Think Differently

By Looby Macnamara

The thoughts and actions of people past and present have determined the current state of our planet. If we change our thinking, we can change the health of our own lives and also the future state of our world. 7 Ways to Think Differently explores ways to address personal, social, and environmental concerns in simple practical steps in our daily lives, helping us to make incremental, achievable changes.

As well as addressing our internal landscapes, Looby explains how individuals and communities can work together to achieve positive change. She also explores the current political and mainstream paradigms and where they are leading us.

Learn about:
• Abundance thinking
• Solutions thinking
• Systems thinking
• Thinking like nature
• Cooperative thinking
• Thinking for the future
• From thought to action

These ways to think differently are influential alternatives to the current mindset and can shift us to a better present, as well as set us on a trajectory toward a better future. This is for anyone who wants to make a difference in the world. Looby offers potent medicine for a world full of challenges.

Available in: Paperback

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