One of the problems facing purveyors of renewable energy facilities is the phenomenon known as NIMBY, or Not in My Back Yard. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal notes that support for renewable energy from sources such as solar and wind tends to drop off when it is proposed that they be built near the person being asked. Wind farms tend to occupy a great deal of land and makes noise besides. Some consider them to be an eyesore, as exemplified by the continuing legal struggle surrounding the Cape Wind project that proposes to build an offshore wind farm near Nantucket Island. The almost decade long struggle has pitting well to do vacation home owners, including the Kennedy family, against advocates of renewable energy,
Even solar farms have from time to time run into local resistance, particularly plans to build them in the remote and sunny Mojave Desert in California. The fact that high tension power lines have to be built from these facilities to the towns and cities where electricity is consumed has been a bone of contention.
Sometimes there is nothing for it but to fight things out in court. But the Economist suggests that one way to win over local residents is to make them partners in any renewable energy project. This can range from building up infrastructure such as roads that benefit both the facility and local residents to sprucing up schools and community centers. A wind farm or solar collector could also be jointly owned by the company running it and the local government, which means that the local government shares in the profits, which will go to services and, potentially, provide a break in local property taxes.
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