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Letter to the Times: Douglas County should encourage renewable energy

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Note: The Lawrence Times runs opinion columns and letters to the Times written by community members with varying perspectives on local issues. These pieces do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Times staff.

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Douglas County now has a draft Climate Action Plan, and kudos to the team that put it together! There are many excellent proposals in the plan. Regarding energy conservation, for instance, it is very strong indeed.

However, there is one glaring omission: utility-scale renewable energy. This lack is surprising, considering that there are three such developments in the works for Douglas County.

The county can’t, on the one hand, commit to fighting climate disruption and, on the other, discourage utility-scale renewable energy developments. One of the policy recommendations must be to actively encourage such projects with the same kind of tax breaks real estate developers get. 

That recommendation will be unpopular with some rural landowners. It will be unpopular with the coal and methane industries. But I’m convinced there is a “silent majority” of people in this county who want large-scale, clean, non-polluting energy sources available locally. I sincerely hope that the final draft of the Climate Action Plan encourages utility-scale solar and wind energy in Douglas County.

— Joe Harrington (ze/he), Lawrence

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