The significance of Madison County’s rejection of Big Wind goes beyond Buffet, Berkshire Hathaway, and Iowa. Since 2015, by my count, 291 government entities from California to Maine have rejected or restricted wind-energy projects.
It’s nearly impossible to build wind projects in California. Between 2013 and 2019, the state added less than 200 megawatts of new wind capacity, and over the past 14 months, proposed wind projects were rejected by both Humboldt and Santa Barbara counties. In Shasta County, local residents are actively opposing the proposed Fountain Wind project.
In New York, wind energy has met such fierce resistance in upstate towns and counties that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration wants to strip them of their zoning authority and effectively force communities to accept large solar and wind projects. Several European countries are seeing similar friction. In Norway, local opposition to wind energy is so strong that the government has given up trying to permit new onshore wind projects. In Germany, the wind energy sector has been stymied by widespread opposition, and according to a December 28 article in Recharge News, “permits for new onshore wind energy projects are and will remain the bottleneck.”
These conflicts show that wind energy’s paltry power density is resulting in land-use conflicts that will continue to impede its long-term growth. Indeed, land-use conflicts are increasing at the same time that the incoming Biden Administration, climate activists, academics, and powerful Washington lobby groups are pushing for massive increases in the deployment of renewables. Last summer, the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force released called for installing half a billion solar panels and “60,000 made-in-America wind turbines” and doing so “within five years.”
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