Scrolling through my newsfeed this morning, I came across a depressing article in USA Today about county opposition to renewable energy projects. According to the reporters, counties are increasingly using a combination of bans, moratoriums and different construction impediments to stop or slow the construction of utility scale green energy projects. This phenomenon is widespread:
“A USA TODAY analysis of local rules and policies nationwide found that, as of December, 15% of counties in the United States had banned or otherwise blocked new utility-scale wind farms, solar installations or both.”
According to the authors of the article, the reasons behind the opposition look much more like traditional NIMBYISM than any climate-change denial ideology:
“To them, the solar plant would “threaten health and well-being” and did not fit “the character of the land.” It would create “a landscape of black glass and towering windmills,” that would put lives at risk and cause “a mass exodus out of the area.”’
How does any of this relate to transmission development? The reason is simple: Power lines are competing for the same land as renewable generation projects. Community opposition to utility scale wind projects will probably translate to a similar backlash to power lines. In some cases, the same ordinances and laws that hamstring wind and solar will also impede transmission projects. This is bad news.