By Ben Kelahan,
Senior Vice President, Energy, The Saint Consulting Group
A “flash” Saint Index poll finds Americans more likely to support transmission lines if they carry electricity generated by wind power. The findings by The Saint Consulting Group were released at the Windpower Conference 2009 in Chicago, sponsored by the American Wind Energy Association.
They should come as a good sign to wind and other renewable energy industries, but with a slight caveat, given a range of federal energy legislation on Capitol Hill that includes cap and trade, a renewable electricity standard (RES) and possible enhanced FERC siting authority for necessary transmission infrastructure akin to an interstate highway system.
Americans want more wind power and renewable energy and they’re willing to accept more power lines in their community delivering it. However, they stop short of giving the federal government a blank check when it comes to siting these green lines without some ability to use the power of their vote at the local level to halt them. The best way to do that is making sure you can still go down to town hall and voice your opinion to local representatives if you have second thoughts about those lines cutting through your community.
A majority of Americans oppose new high-voltage transmission lines in their community, but that
opposition drops precipitously to 17% if those lines are delivering clean, renewable energy from wind.
Support for new transmission lines leaps from just 46% to 83% when respondents are asked specifically
about high-voltage transmission lines delivering wind power.
On the issue of who should have authority to site a new transmission line in their community,
however, Americans oppose federal siting authority 57% to 43%.
Ben Kelahan is senior vice president, energy, The Saint Consulting Group, email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 703 531-8274