Boost your community with local renewable energy initiatives.

By Oliver Townsend Jun 19, 2024
Support local renewable energy projects.jpegOrginal image from: https://www.islandsweekly.com/news/support-local-renewable-energy-projects/

Supporting local renewable energy projects is crucial in today’s world as we strive to combat climate change and transition towards cleaner, more sustainable sources of power. With the goal of moving away from fossil fuels and embracing renewable energy, communities across the nation are facing significant challenges. The need for electricity continues to rise, while the availability of carbon-free power sources diminishes. This shift has led to the closure of coal plants and the adoption of intermittent resources like solar and wind energy, resulting in potential energy shortages.

The Importance of Local Renewable Energy

Given the unique challenges faced by remote locations like islands, building renewable energy projects locally is the most viable solution for clean and affordable power. Organizations like OPALCO play a key role in spearheading these initiatives but require strong community support to succeed. By updating outdated land use designations to accommodate modern renewable energy systems, we can pave the way for a more sustainable energy future.

Request for Land Use Designation Changes

OPALCO has requested two key changes to the Comprehensive Plan regarding land use designations. The first proposal is to introduce a new land use category called “Agri-Solar generation” under Agricultural and Forestry Use designations. This change would promote local renewable energy projects, diversify farm income, and support the economic viability of local food production. It would allow for permitting of agri-solar generation in rural and agricultural areas, as well as conditional use in Forest Resource Lands.

Support for Utility Renewable Power Generation

The second request aims to add a new land use category called “Utility Renewable power-generation facilities” under Utilities Uses. This designation would support the development of clean and quiet renewable energy systems, replacing outdated non-renewable power generation facilities. By allowing permitting for utility-scale renewable power projects in rural areas and AG Resource Lands, as well as conditional use in Forest Resource Lands, OPALCO can expand its renewable energy infrastructure.

Upcoming Public Hearing

The San Juan County Planning Commission will be conducting a public hearing from June 21 to July 19 to review and consider these requests. It is essential for community members to voice their support for local renewable energy projects by submitting comments to the Planning Commission. By advocating for these changes, residents can help OPALCO secure the necessary approvals to install utility-scale renewable energy sites that will benefit the entire community.

Take Action for a Sustainable Future

With increasing grant opportunities available, ensuring permitting certainty for renewable energy projects is vital for OPALCO to access funding and meet clean energy goals. By participating in the public comment process and expressing support for renewable energy initiatives, community members can contribute to a more sustainable and resilient energy future for the islands. Let’s come together to embrace renewable energy and create a greener tomorrow for generations to come.

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