Citizens of rural communities know the truth about electricity bills, environmental benefits and promises of jobs, says energy commentator Robert Bryce—and they want no part of wind and solar power projects
November 13, 2022
“The hype about renewable energy keeps colliding with motivated opposition in rural America. That fact was made clear again on Tuesday when several rural communities in Ohio and Michigan voted overwhelmingly to reject proposed wind and solar projects,” says Robert Bryce in his most recent artiocle appearing in Real Clear Energy on November 11.
Traditional news outlets are ignoring growing resistance in rural America, Bryce says, but that’s not stopping communities from blocking wind and solar projects where they can. To date, since 2025, 375 large wind power projects have been halted by local resistance.
“In Crawford County, Ohio, residents voted by a 3 to 1 margin to reject the proposed 300-megawatt Honey Creek Wind Project which was being promoted by Apex Clean Energy. As reported by Gere Goble of the Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum, ‘The room erupted into cheers as Kay Weisenauer read the results to members of Crawford Neighbors United who had gathered at the Crawford County Courthouse on Tuesday night: A referendum vote had upheld a 10-year ban on industrial wind development in Crawford County.’
Potential threat to health and property values
“Also on Tuesday, voters in three Michigan townships “resoundingly rejected ordinances enabling the Montcalm Wind project by Apex Clean Energy, a developer attempting to erect 75 turbines on farmland in Montcalm County northeast of Grand Rapids.” That’s from an article written by Garret Ellison of Mlive.com. Voters in Maple Valley, Douglass, and Winfield townships rejected ordinances amid what Ellison called ‘growing animosity toward wind and solar projects among rural residents in Michigan who see them as a potential threat to health and property values.’
“In addition, voters in Belvidere Township rejected an ordinance that would have allowed solar energy projects, and ‘seven township officials in Montcalm County were recalled over their support’ of Apex’s proposed wind project. The rejections continue a losing streak for Apex, whose projects have faced staunch opposition in local communities in New York and other states. Apex gained notoriety in New York for its failure to disclose the presence of known Bald Eagle nests on Galloo Island where it wanted to install multiple wind turbines.
“Tuesday’s rejections in Ohio and Michigan bring the total number of rejections or restrictions of wind energy in the US this year to 51. Since 2015, there have been at least 375 rejections of restrictions and those have occurred in states from Maine to Hawaii. In addition, the rejection of solar in Belvidere Township increases the number of solar rejections this year to 76 and to 103 since 2017. These rejections are all documented in the Renewable Rejection Database which is on my website, robertbryce.com. (Please note that the database is being updated and reformatted, so some of these latest rejections have not been posted.)
Media not reporting resistance
“Before going further, let me remind readers that you won’t see these rejections being reported by The New York Times or National Public Radio. Those news outlets routinely ignore what is happening in rural America when it comes to land use conflicts. Nor will you read about these rejections in the studies being published by elite academics at places like Princeton or Stanford. But the numbers are clear and the rural resistance to the energy sprawl that comes with large-scale renewable projects is widespread and very strong. Yes, more wind and solar capacity is being built in states across the country. And those expansions are being fueled by staggering quantities of federal tax credits through the production tax credit and investment tax credit. “
Resistance to new projects 100% certain in Ontario
In Ontario, Canada, rural residents are waiting to see whether wind power proposals result from the multi-phase Request for Proposals being released by the Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO. IESO is looking for 5,000 megawatts of power generation. Some of this is thought to from be natural gas but already one wind power company, Capital Power, announced its intention to bid for new “power generation capacity.”
There are 19 companies on the list of 55 applicants qualified by the IESO that have a history of wind power development in Ontario.
“We know a lot more about the negative impacts of grid-scale wind power than we did in 2009 when the Green Energy Act was passed,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “We know there are thousands of files of noise complaints; we know there have been instances of damage to the aquifer as in North Kent; and we know wind turbines are an unreliable, low-density source of power generation. If you do a cost-benefit and impact analysis, wind can’t stand up,” Wilson says.
“The people in Ontario’s rural communities were part of this experiment once, and we’re not doing it again.”
Final documents related to the Request for Proposals will be released December 6, according to the IESO. Concerns have been expressed about the history of dealing with complaints by companies on the Qualified Applicant list, and the fact that despite government policy that municipalities get final say in locating power projects, earlier versions of the RFP documents seem to have municipal approval as one criterion on a list of rated criteria.