The Basic Steps to Winning an Onshore Local Wind War

Note: The best way of defending your rights is to get a proper local ordinance passed before a wind project is approved. The chance of citizens getting satisfaction from an ineffective local ordinance (or the state) regarding a constructed wind project, is close to zero. The strategy below is based on these realities…

1 – Know your civil rights: then repeatedly make them the foundation of your arguments.

[Ultimately this is a Public Relations (PR) fight. It is better PR to be for something (civil rights), rather than against something (wind energy)…  All States mandate that local legislators must protect the health, safety and welfare of their community. In most States these rights are specified in the state’s Constitution. If not, they will be found in state statutes.]

2 – Your objective is to protect your civil rights (i.e. to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community). For Home Rule States*, this is accomplished by getting a proper local Wind Ordinance passed.

[It’s important to understand that the objective of a local wind ordinance is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community — not to exclude wind or solar. A proper wind ordinance includes five (5) key science-based protective regulations (that also have legal precedents). See our Model Wind Ordinance for suggested words.]

3 – To convince local legislators to pass a proper Wind Ordinance, the most effective PR plan is to make a strong and specific case about the wind project’s local economics.

[Wind developers promote their project based on one-sided claimed community benefits. To counter that, focusing on NET local economics has proven to be extremely effective — as such a calculation will likely show an annual financial loss. Even though it’s a ballpark approximation, coming up with a specific yearly NET local dollar amount is imperative.]

4 – The public is the focus of your net local economic message (not just local legislators).

[If community citizens (the public) are shown that the proposed wind project will likely be a local financial liability, local legislators will be much more inclined to pass a proper wind ordinance.]

5 – Proper local opposition Leadership is paramount.

[This is a teamwork campaign. The local opposition leaders have to be team-players and team-builders. Considering the complexity of this matter it is imperative that these leaders work closely with an experienced pro-citizen wind consultant. This is a simple explanation about the path options for citizens defending their rights. Here are some questions to ask possible local leaders, or anyone who is offering you wind energy consulting services.]

6 – Organization + Education + Communication are essential ingredients to winning.

[Organization is important as this is a team project (no individual can do this on their own). The more educated local citizens are, and the better the communication they use, the chance of success is significantly improved. Here is a sample letter to send to associates that are likely allies in this fight.]

Legal action against irresponsible representatives should be a LAST recourse.

[It is preferential to win these people over through education. If that’s not possible, citizens’ most powerful recourse is to file a Federal 1983 claim.]

*For Non-Home Rule [Dillon] States (and later in the process for Home Rule States), defending citizen rights moves to the higher (State) level.

[There are typically three key State-level issues that need to be properly addressed (e.g. at a Public Service Commission hearing) regarding the wind project: a) is there a “public need” for it? b) is it reliable? and c) is it low-cost to ratepayers? The answer to all three is NO — so citizens should aggressively make that case (using the information on this website). Note, these also apply to Offshore Wind Projects.]

[The above material is written from the perspective as to what citizens should do when dealing with a proposed wind energy project. The situation is somewhat different from the perspective of what local legislators should do in the same scenario. For details about that see general outline. (The NY version is here and a variation of it applies to other Home Rule states.)]

For more details on each of these points, as well as supporting material, see Key Documents.

{As is explained elsewhere on this website, I am not an attorney, and I am not giving legal advice. For all legal matters it is recommended to contact a competent attorney, preferably one who is committed to this issue as a matter of principle.}

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