Green energy’s green light

The transition to a green energy future required a long prologue as scientists and engineers sought efficient ways to harness wind, sunlight, and other renewable sources of power to curb climate change. Now that future may depend on tapping forces more commonly associated with building democracy than with developing technology.

That’s because green projects like wind turbines and solar farms, and new runs of high-tension power lines, face regulatory hurdles and opposition from diverse groups, calling on civic virtues such as listening, honesty, and fairness.

New polls show that more Americans may be willing to live near energy-producing infrastructure. One reason is that power producers are learning how to win over communities through patient engagement. Some critics of such projects “just don’t want it because they don’t want it,” Lisa Grow, CEO of Idaho Power, told the Los Angeles Times. So much of that resistance, she said, is based on misunderstanding. “But for people that have specific needs, I think it is worth the time to have a process where they can be invited in, and you can deal with some of those things upfront. If you wait until the end, you just have a fight.”