Greg Pahl’s Power from the People–A review

By Paul Gipe

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 is often a tale of endurance and survival, but also a powerful testament to the human spirit.

Bravo to Pahl for explaining how feed-in tariffs have led to the community-power revolution in Europe and how they can do the same here in North America. While Power from the People is narrowly focused on the US, Greg has admirably summarized feed-in tariffs, a tricky topic to handle well and he’s done it right.

His description of the Fox Island Wind project is dynamite story and worth the price of admission.

But the true value of Pahl’s book is the plethora of case studies of people who are actually doing it in the US.

Unlike most other writers, Pahl has also included a broad range of technologies and not just limited the book to solar and wind as is so often the case. For example, his inclusion of geothermal is welcome.

Disclosure: Chelsea Green is the publisher of two of my wind energy books and Pahl uses some of my material in his book. I am also quoted on the back cover of his book.

And Pahl should win praise for emphasizing Gainesville, Florida’s success and his loving portrayal of the Bavarian village that developed renewable energy for the community’s benefit.

This isn’t the first time Pahl has tackled the subject. His previous The Citizen Powered Energy Handbook: Community Solutions to a Global Crisis published in 2006 proposed shifting the debate from Not In My Back Yard to Please, In My Back Yard with community ownership. It’s an idea whose time and Pahl’s new book is a welcome addition to the growing library on community power.

Power from the People: How to Organize, Finance, and Launch Local Energy Projects by Greg Pahl with a foreword by Van Jones, $19.95, trade paperback, 2012, 288 pages, 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches, ISBN-13: 978-1603584098.