If every state adopts policies to maximize both energy efficiency savings and rooftop solar installations, large-scale wind, solar and geothermal development will still be necessary, to replace retiring coal plant output. It’s essential that this development be planned in ways that protect and enhance ecosystem functions, species, habitat and landscapes.
Nevada Wilderness Project has pioneered a “Smart from the Start” approach for working with wind, solar and geothermal developers to site projects and mitigate their impacts in ways that do just that. Principles developed by the California Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative (RETICalifornia Renewable Energy Transmission Initiative www.energy.ca.gov/reti), to take another example, exclude development in sensitive areas; encourage development on already-disturbed lands; cluster proposed generation to minimize impacts and transmission construction; and require use of existing transmission corridors before new corridors can be considered. www.energy.ca.gov/reti
The Wilderness Society’s “Powering and Protecting” program advances a similar agenda. Local and national environmental groups working in Oregon have signed a statement of principles for responsible renewable energy development there (HERE to view/download the statement).
Renewable energy generating companies and environmental groups are making common cause to promote this kind of development, and state agencies and regulatory commissions support it, because it makes permitting less contentious, speeds approvals and helps avoid litigation.
Wild Nevada’s “Smart from the Start” background can be found HERE.
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