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UGA Professor, ACC Official on Renewable Energy

Americans support renewable energy sources, as long as they’re not too close. A study from University of Georgia researcher Professor Thomas Lawrence shows they approve of new energy infrastructure like solar farms and wind turbines, just not in their backyards.

“How far away they would be comfortable with something like a high-voltage transmission line or a wind turbine, something like that,” Lawrence said. “People in the U.S. preferred it to be further away from their house.”

Lawrence studied support for the technologies in the U.S., Germany and Ireland, with the European residents more willing to have such facilities in closer contact.

“A lot of that is just the fact that we live here in the U.S., we’re still 330-odd million people, but it’s a big country. We have a lot of open spaces and so we’re kind of used to spreading out.”

In 2019, the ACC Mayor and Commission voted to adopt the county’s 100% Clean and Renewable Energy Resolution which calls for the government and community’s electricity needs to be met by renewable sources by 2035. ACC Sustainability Officer Mike Wharton says even renewable sources come at a cost.

“For example if you’re going to generate solar energy at some point, you’ve got to have component parts for solar panels, and that takes mining.,” according to Wharton. “Mining silver, you’re mining other elements, creating things in labs and transporting those things across the country. Using water to creating those things. Using water to create those things, if you’re going to store it in batteries now you’ve got a whole other type of front end kind of input that you have to have. And each one of those comes with a price.”

You can hear more about renewable energy nationally and locally on this week’s edition of Athens News Matters.

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