Liberal Rhode Island Town Bans Solar Power Out Of Safety Concerns


By Andrew Follett

A Rhode Island town temporarily halted the building of a new solar power project for the next three months over safety and land use concerns.

Coventry and Green, Rhode Island’s city council, voted 4 to 1 for a three-month moratorium on solar power shortly after blocking construction permits for a small solar plant. The moratorium was intended to promote safety and preserve the town’s rural character.

“I just think for safety’s sake and to protect the town, the developers and residents a moratorium is something reasonable,” Karen Carlson, a city-councilwoman who voted for the ban, told The Coventry Courier. “The feeling among the vast majority in Greene, I think, is to preserve that district and keep residential areas as residential and industrial areas as industrial.”

Roughly 54.4 percent of Rhode Island voted for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, according to The New York Times and the county where Coventry is located saw 52.2 percent of residents vote for Clinton. The former secretary of state promised to produce enough wind and solar energy to power every U.S. home.

Coventry isn’t the only small liberal town to ban green energy in its backyard.

Residents of Tompkins County, New York have been fighting a planned wind farm which would power nearby Cornell University for the last 11 years.

The wind farm is relatively small — only 16 megawatts — but it is still being opposed by many locals.

More than 100 residents signed an open letter demanding that any wind turbines built be farther away from their homes than the plans dictate. Currently, the turbines are planned to be only 1,000 feet from any occupied building and 225 feet from property lines. Due to these concerns, local officials in Tompkins County have been extremely reluctant to give the project final approval.

Environmentalists are increasingly against wind and solar power at the local level. Even in comparatively progressive places like Vermont or Great Britain, wind and solar installations tend to be aggressively opposed by local residents.

Major environmental groups like the Center For Biological Diversity have a long history of pursuing legal action against “green” development, like wind turbines or solar farms, which it believes encroach on animal habitats and kill tens of thousands of birds.

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