Renewable energy policy gets lots of attention at the Federal level. Passing policies intended to drive the transition to a clean energy economy are important, but we must be able to get renewable energy projects through the permitting process first and foremost. If we're unable to do that, our policies don't mean much.
In today's episode, Host Madelyn Smerillo interviews Bradley Pischea, National Director of the Land and Liberty Coalition (L&LC). L&LC works at the local level to get renewable energy projects approved, predominantly in the Midwest. Permitting decisions can be made at the state or local level, depending on which state the project resides in. Regardless of the permitting environment, L&LC always gets involved at the most local level.
L&LC was formed in the absence of coordinated voices in support of wind and solar projects. As Pischea says in his interview, "the key to political success is political organization." Wind energy development in the early 2010s experienced significant organized renewable energy opposition. Wind opposition continues to persist, and opposition is growing, and now includes solar energy as development expands. L&LC works on both wind and solar projects to deliver the facts and bust myths about renewable energy.
The balance between state and local permitting is a delicate one that varies from state to state. Places like Michigan have local permitting structures that vary from township to township and county to county. Other states like Minnesota have more state-focused permitting structures that rely on good policy at the legislature and a renewable-friendly Public Utilities Commission to function smoothly.
In his interview, Pischea explains how communities get involved in the permitting process. Folks show up both in support and opposition to renewable energy projects, and it is L&LC's job to ensure the voices of support are coordinated enough to compete with any vocal opposition. It can be intimidating for local supporters to step in when the opposition is loud and coordinated, but L&LC opens the door for positive renewable energy voices to be heard.
As a project of the Conservative Energy Network, L&LC serves to bridge the gap between traditional conservative values and the new frontier of renewable energy. Members of rural communities stand to benefit the most from solar and wind expansion through economic benefits such as drought-proof income for farmers, tax revenue, and ample creation of jobs. Renewable energy development also represents a property rights issue because farmers earn their living from their land. Consequently, they are very good stewards of it. Renewable energy provides a variety of benefits to the landowner, the community and the environment as well.
The local space is truly where the rubber meets the road in renewable energy permitting. Rural communities are those directly affected by the renewable energy development, so it's important to make sure they understand the benefits and that we bring the community along through public education and information gathering when making permitting decisions.
All this and more on Episode 2 of GridCourse.