Emory Law Journal
Publication Title (Abbreviation)
At a point in the future that is no longer remote, renewable energy will be a necessity. The construction of large renewable energy farms is central to a transition away from fossil fuels, but distributed renewable energy technologies—wind turbines in backyards and solar panels on roofs—are immediately essential as well. Widespread deployment of distributed renewable technologies requires rapid innovation led by renewable energy pioneers—individuals who act as market leaders and prove to their neighbors that these new energy devices are safe and worthy of use. Existing law and the very structure of governmental authority over energy is ill-suited to this energy transition and stifles the efforts of these pioneers. Public bodies must therefore embark upon a substantial overhaul of what we call land-energy rules—legal requirements governing the construction and physical location of renewable technology. This Article assesses the relative institutional capacities of different levels of government to determine which will best ensure that land-energy rules enable a drive toward distributed renewable energy and concludes that the powers of municipal governments must be unleashed. Innovation will occur from the ground up, and municipalities must actively work to enable the next great energy transition in this country: a move toward energy produced from the sun, the wind, the earth’s internal heat, and other renewable sources.
© 2011 Hannah J. Wiseman & Garrick B. Pursley
land-energy rules, renewable energy, municipal government