Support for wind farms faces off against opposition to traffic

The Saint ReportEnergy, saintblog, Transportation, Wind PowerLeave a Comment

By Jay Vincent,
Senior Vice President, Energy, The Saint Consulting Group

truck_turbineWhen it comes to NIMBY issues, increased traffic in the neighborhood is commonly issue numero uno.  You typically hear about it associated with big box stores and other commercial developments that are regional draws for residents in surrounding municipalities.
Those same uses also solicit complaints from neighbors concerned about delivery trucks when they show up to public hearings where developers appear before planning commissions and elected councils.  My colleague Chris Hopkins has become a renowned expert in the aggregates and mining industry for his counsel on calming the community about truck traffic associated with projects like quarries.

The wind energy industry is now facing some exposure about truck traffic travelling through communities delivering the wind turbine components (blades, nacelles, towers) from point of delivery from manufacturing facilities to the site where they’ll be generating megawatts of electricity in the future. A New York Times feature on “the slow, costly and often dangerous road to wind power” looks at this issue.

In Illinois, road commissioners utilize it to extract considerable resources (not necessarily unwarranted) from wind developers before approving them in town.  In the 2009 Saint Index, nearly one in five named traffic as the reason they are opposed to local development.  However, that number faces off against an over 4 out of 5 respondents that said they would accept a wind farm in their community.

As you’ve heard from us at Saint Consulting before, the key in maintaining the acceptance of wind farms is turning out supporters so that more motivated opponents aren’t able to maximize on the intensity of the truck traffic issue to scare local political decision-makers away.  With truck traffic becoming a more visible NIMBY issue to capitalize on to fight siting a wind farm, its increasingly important for wind developers to turnout the silent majority (the four out of five) in the entitlement process.

Jay Vincent is senior vice president for energy for The Saint Consulting Group, email phone 312.970.5770 Ext: 7502

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