Mention solar energy even a few years ago and angels sang, the sky was deep blue, and all was right with the world. Not so much anymore. That burnish has worn off in some places.
NIMBYism – Not In My Backyard – has hit solar development. A story in the Salisbury [NC] newspaper, Solar farm plans in Gold Hill [NC] met by resident concerns. One said, “It’s not about a fight against solar energy. Solar energy is great. This just isn’t what we want in our backyard.”.
Here’s another: Proposed solar farm in Davie County [NC] stirs up opposition
Solar isn’t being singled out, either. Prospect of visible ocean wind farms unites Brunswick towns in opposition, says the Port City Daily in Wilmington. “There’s a campaign afoot in Brunswick County and its coastal townships to thwart the installation of offshore wind turbines within 24 nautical miles of the shoreline.” And try to site a transmission line or gas pipeline!
It isn’t just a Carolina story, either.
- Massive solar farm plan angers southern Wisconsin residents
- U.S. Fishermen Are Making Their Last Stand Against Offshore Wind
- Local fight against power lines shows tensions coming with push toward clean energy future
The stories hit the issue squarely on the head. NIMBY and a modernized energy systems do not go together. The conflict is that people want clean and efficient power, but not too close to them.
The WIIFM – What’s In It For Me – has to be more than clean power for society, it seems. Power lines that pass through a region, but do not drop off any power, can be unpopular. Solar or wind is a hit for the landowners who lease or sell their land to energy companies, but maybe not so much to neighbors.
Power companies and developers have a responsibility to work with the citizens, sponsor dialogue, truly listen, and be willing to make changes to projects to make the projects more palatable to the communities. Input from citizens needs to be informed and from the heart, and especially, civil. Education in these forums is a two-way street. It is a Golden Rule kind of thing.
What’s especially tough is the cultural environment these days, not the Earth’s environment. Community issues raise tensions that need to be aired out with reason. It can be done, too. Check this story (right) from Ohio. Highland County residents comment on solar facilities during commission forum
These residents knew how to agree to disagree on some issues, but they kept talking. We need lots more of that kind of dialogue.