Sparring visions for the future of solar energy

From Brett Walton, who writes for Circle of Blue, and who was a Fellow on November's Energy Country Institute in the Southwest: Visions of solar energy's future compete in Colorado's San Luis Valley

SAN LUIS VALLEY, Colorado — Just as in every address that he has made to a joint session of Congress, President Barack Obama this week confirmed his commitment to the economic and environmental benefits of wind and solar energy, adding that opening more federal land to clean energy development is in the national interest.

“I’m directing my administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power 3 million homes,” the president declared in the State of the Union address on Tuesday evening.

But the government’s plan to turn large expanses of the American West into clean energy production zones is confronting considerable challenges, not the least of which is growing public resistance to big wind and solar projects that are popping up on wild lands close to rural communities. The public restiveness — driven by concerns about the effects of utility-scale installations on the environment and on small-town community values — is altering the government’s planning process and putting in doubt just how big the clean energy footprint will be on public lands.... Read more.