Washington pushes renewable energy prospects, but local support is lacking

The Saint ReportEnergy, Environmental Planning, Saint Consulting Links, saintblog, Wind PowerLeave a Comment

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

nimby-wind-farm Last week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told America what we at Saint Consulting have been saying to many of our renewable energy clients: renewable energy policy is great, but it’s just policy until you actually have the decision-making authority to site generation projects and transmission lines in Anytown, USA over the loud cries and shaken fists of NIMBY opposition.

Reid’s statements and legislation introduced last week demonstrate that siting renewable energy generation and transmission projects has the political support of Washington, DC, but what about Washington County, Iowa? Local political support for siting renewables projects like wind is still up in the air — many wind projects that have all the benefits claimed by Reid and the Obama Administration fail to garner the votes in local towns due to their perceived local impacts on the community.

I suspect a strong motivation for the Reid bill, Renewable Energy Zones (REZ) and the backstop authority provided by the weight and power of the federal government, is to ensure projects are sited where needed and in due time in the face of NIMBY opposition that cannot be resolved. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar backed up Senator Reid’s legislation on Monday by stating that “we get this thing done and not get stuck in a not-in-my-backyard syndrome.”

Our mantra has been all politics is local and all land use is political. Care to place your bets?

For another take on the growing role of NIMBY opposition to wind farms, read comments from Bob Kahn, head of Strategic Communications in Seattle, which appeared in the Summit Daily News.

Jay Vincent is senior vice president for energy, The Saint Consulting Group, email vincent@tscg.biz, phone 312.970.5770 Ext: 7502

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