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Renewable Energy Brings Out Some Extreme Nimbyism

You may have heard of extreme preppers. These are people who spend a large portion of their time preparing themselves, their homes and their families for what they believe is an inevitable disaster resulting from an economic meltdown, the spread of a deadly virus, climate change or another catastrophic event.  And hey, you never know, in the end these preppers may be the heroes of our time.

But have you heard about extreme not-in-my-backyard-ists? You probably haven’t because this isn’t a real phenomenon. At least not yet.  But we’re here to tell you that there are some pretty good examples out there of folks who seem to be willing to go to any extreme to stop a renewable energy project from coming about. 

With that in mind and in the interest of educating developers about what some people might say about their projects, here are a few examples.  Feel free to list your own NIMBY cases in comment section below.

Solar is So Ugly

Take the example of Jim and Frances Babb who spent years battling their local zoning board in a West St. Louis county in Missouri.

The couple simply wanted to install solar panels on their Victorian home and even though their homeowners association gave them a quick approval to do so, once they filled for a permit the city itself passed an ordinance banning solar on the front or sides of a roof.  It also banned ground-mounted arrays. 

A neighbor who was in opposition to the Babbs request said she thought the panels would look “trashy.”  Other neighbors felt that the ugly panels would lower their own home values. 

Even though the Babb’s ultimately prevailed, it took multiple hearings and a lawsuit before the panels were finally installed.  You can watch a clip from one of the hearings in the video at this link.

Wind Turbines Ruin Views

On a much larger scale of extreme nimbyism, look no further than Cape Wind, a proposed offshore wind farm near Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The project has been in the works for more than 10 years and has seen lawsuit after lawsuit be brought against it.  The bottom line and the suspected reason for all of this opposition is that residents of the cape, among whom are the very famous Kennedy’s, worry that the sight of 130 turbines about 5 miles out to sea will destroy their view of the ocean.

In a press release announcing that Cape Wind has again prevailed in its legal battles, the company noted that “Judge Walton rejected a long list of legal claims project opponents had raised, including arguments over navigational safety, alternative locations, alternative technologies, historic preservation, Native American artifacts, sea turtles, and the adequacy of the project’s environmental impact statement and biological opinions.”

It still remains to be seen if the wind farm will be built but, once again, as of today all systems are go.

Even Horses Hate Wind Farms

While most of the Nimby claims come from humans, keep in mind that horses, too, have serious problems with wind farms. According to a story in The Irish Times last month, the bloodstock industry, that is the industry that breeds thoroughbred horses, is worried that Ireland is too lenient on where wind turbines can be sited and is requesting that changes be made to the wind energy development guidelines.

According to the article, a group of four horse organizations -- the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, the Irish Jockeys’ Association, the Irish Racehorse Trainers’ Association and the Association of Irish Racehorse Owners – had filed a submission stating that thoroughbreds have “a highly-evolved flight response and were particularly sensitive to perceived visual or auditory threats.”

The submission also claimed that the “safety of the horses, and their riders and handlers could be in danger because of a turbine being located directly within their range of vision or hearing.”

These are just a few examples in an ocean of complaints about renewable energy projects.  List your favorite (or most aggravating) in the comments section below.