Renewable energy projects of all size but especially grid-scale projects are increasing running into concerted opposition from NIMBYs who, while they might favor clean energy, don’t want it located anywhere they can see it. NIMBY of course is an acronym for ‘Not In My Back Yard’ while BANANAs are even more extreme, saying ‘Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody.’
From the Cape Wind project offshore in Massachusetts to homeowner associations in Arizona banning rooftop solar to concerted efforts to block big solar in the Antelope Valley in Los Angeles County, NIMBYs are doing what renewable energy proponents thought would never happen . They are sometimes stopping projects from being built and also slowing them down for years.
Cape Wind, which wants to install 130 400-foot-tall wind turbines 5 miles out in the ocean off Cape Cod, is by now a classic example of an interminable regulatory process which can easily be manipulated and gamed by those with money. The original permit was filed in 2001. Battles have continued since then. It really does seem that much of the opposition is from a few wealthy folks who don’t want to view those icky turbines hovering somewhere out near the horizon. A common NIMBY tactic, and certainly one employed at Cape Wind, is to drag out the process as long as possible, until the venture capital dries up or tax credits expire.
But it’s not just martini-sippers on their verandas who don’t want to look at wind turbines far out in the ocean.