"We don't think a long time about things, she says. "That seems like a good idea! Let's do that! That's the extent of our long range planning."
So, where did his crazy idea come from? I remember coming across an article about this man and his company several years ago, many months before opposition to Clean Line Energy projects began to coalesce. In the article, Skelly (or maybe it was his little buddy Hans, I honestly can't remember) seemed to have the idea that because their transmission lines were supposed to be for "green" energy, people would welcome them being sited on their land. At the time, I snickered and thought about what a wake up call this company had coming, because I knew there would be record opposition. I just had to wait a bit, and sure enough, a few names started popping up in the media questioning Clean Line's plans. From there it was just a hop, skip and a jump to strong opposition groups well-equipped for the battle ahead. And so it is!
It's not about the color of the electrons, it's about the transmission line. Where did Skelly get his crazy idea that landowners would welcome a "clean" line in their backyard?
Well, friends, I have finally located the source! At the 2009 American Wind Energy Association's WINDPOWER 2009 conference in Chicago, Ben Kelahan of The Saint Consulting Group made a presentation of his company's public opinion polling survey results about transmission line siting.
The presentation informed attendees like Michael Skelly,
A majority of Americans oppose new high-voltage transmission lines in their community, but that opposition drops precipitously to 17% if those lines are delivering clean, renewable energy from wind. Support for new transmission lines leaps from just 46% to 83% when respondents are asked specifically about high-voltage transmission lines delivering wind power.
The survey of 1,239 adults nationwide was conducted last week (April 21-23) by The Saint Consulting Group, the political land use consulting firm that also issues the annual Saint Index© survey of attitudes toward real estate development projects, including energy-generation projects such as wind, nuclear and hydro facilities.
Ben Kelahan, energy practice leader at Saint Consulting, said the new results are a clear sign that Americans support cleaner, renewable power and that it has carried over to the distribution of that power through their own backyard.
“High-voltage transmission lines generate some of the most adamant NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) opposition in the country. That such a large percentage of people are willing to allow green lines in their community says a lot about the awareness and importance of renewable energy and climate change issues in addition to the education efforts undertaken by the renewable energy industry,” Kelahan said.
I'm sorry, Ben, but your survey is W-R-O-N-G! For as today's reality demonstrates, people really aren't willing to allow "green" lines in their communities. Perhaps they said they would when you had them on the phone and the "green" line was only an idea proposed for someone else's community. But when the rubber meets the road and the "green" is washed away, it's still a transmission line nobody wants or needs. Public opinion surveys are only as good as the companies who conduct them, and are routinely manipulated to produce a desired result that may not comport with reality.
But, for Skelly, I'm not sorry in the least. It wasn't a good idea, your whole business plan is based on incorrect data, and it's never going to happen. Give up.