New fact sheets analyze environmental impacts of renewable energy
NEVADA, IOWA – As a result of decreased costs of development, clean energy investment is growing in the Midwest. In 2017, wind and solar energy became more affordable than natural gas and coal-based energy sources—the cost of energy decreased by 69 percent and 88 percent for wind and solar, respectively, over the previous nine years.
Two fact sheets released today by the Center for Rural Affairs analyze the environmental impact of increased renewable energy development. “Transmission and New Technologies” and “Wind and Solar” review laws and policies that protect wildlife habitat during the installation of wind, solar, and energy transmission line projects. New technologies and energy alternatives which can reduce demand for new generation and infrastructure are also listed.
“Renewable energy investment creates jobs and new tax revenue for rural communities,” said Johnathan Hladik, policy director at the Center for Rural Affairs. “As development continues, it is important that policies are in place to protect vulnerable habitat and to ensure new projects do not adversely impact communities as we transition to a clean energy economy.”
Developers are typically required to consider and evaluate habitat loss before beginning construction on any new project. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requires most project developers to submit Habitat Conservation Plans and purchase Incidental Take Permits. The regulations protect migration patterns for critical populations of birds, bats, and bald eagles.
“Responsible policies that protect wildlife and habitat are a key part of sustainable clean energy development,” Hladik said. “Developers are obligated to consider their environmental impact in communities considering new projects and these fact sheets highlights those requirements.”
The fact sheets examine efforts by states to make renewable energy projects, like solar, more friendly to vulnerable species of pollinators. Examples of pollinator-friendly solar programs can be found in Maryland, Minnesota, New York, and Illinois.
Advocates in Iowa pressed for legislation during the 2019 session to encourage the planting of native habitat on solar project sites. In neighboring Minnesota, an estimated half of the more than 4,000 acres of solar installations have incorporated pollinator habitat.
To view the fact sheets, visit cfra.org/publications/factsheet/TransmissionandNewTech and cfra.org/publications/factsheet/WindandSolar.
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