Renewables Ruin the view! That’s not your call, say farmers who see double green (Clean air and cash).

A big — and growing — impediment to expanding renewables is, perhaps ironically, environmental activists who don’t want their views spoiled. For instance, a power line bringing renewable energy from Quebec to New England has been stalled for years by activists. And in New Jersey and other places, fierce opposition to coastal wind turbines have seriously delayed the deployment of offshore arrays.

A lot of it has to do with the structure of local governments. Depending where you are located, there are city and town councils, county governments and state legislatures. And then there are the feds. All of which can put their oars in to either slow or stop the development of renewables and associated infrastructure.

Now, some Michigan farmers are fighting back, saying it’s their land and should be able to sell or lease it to whoever they want, including to solar and wind farm investors.

In particular, reports MLive, they are fed up with local-level controls over renewable energy installations, where pressure from residents concerned about maintaining a rural atmosphere has led to stalled or stopped projects.

And so a couple of them — a Christmas tree grower and a grains and livestock farmer — went to the state house in Lansing this week to argue that Michigan’s current township and county zoning system is broken enough that disrupted views alone are enough to kill a wind farm or solar field project.

“People in our township were spun into a frenzy because they were lied to by people who didn’t want their view to change. The problem is they don’t own their view,” said longtime family farm owner Clara Ostrander, of Azalia in Monroe County, adding that “They should not get to decide what we grow or what we harvest. And that includes harvesting the sun for electricity.”

The land-tillers’ persuasion — and that of other renewables boosters — has had success, with Democrats on the state senate’s energy committee voting on Tuesday to advance a pair of bills to overhaul how decisions are made across Michigan about where to build large-scale renewable energy generation. Under the legislation, the Michigan Public Service Commission would become the ultimate decision-maker for installations with a 100-megawatt capacity or larger. The bills already passed the house and are expected to be voted on by the full senate this week; if passed there, they would go to the Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, for her signature.

Ostrander, meanwhile, is looking forward to a new source of income. “We signed a wind lease because we believe in renewable energy,” she told the legislators, “and that it would be a big boost in income, allowing us to keep the property as a farm.”

Similar Posts