WildEarth Guardians

A Force for Nature

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Photo: Smitt

Community renewable energy – local energy solutions that put power in people’s hands

Doable Renewable

The American West has abundant wind and solar resources that, if deployed, could help rural and urban residents advance a 100 percent renewable energy economy. But today most American energy policies emphasize industrial, fossil-fuel-based energy development. Big corporations decide where they’ll get their energy, while communities that purchase their power from these corporations have little say in whether that energy comes from a coal plant or from solar panels.

WildEarth Guardians wants to put power back in the hands of the people, giving communities the freedom to choose local power solutions that make the most sense for them. We support citizens’ and communities’ efforts to generate their own power—whether on their rooftops, on their schools, or on their government buildings. We’re fighting to help communities have the freedom to choose local energy, which today means cheaper and cleaner energy as well.

We’re working with rural electric co-operatives, cities, and individual homeowners to advance clean, local energy solutions to help create a society to match the scenery in the American West.

Our vision: 100 percent renewables by 2035.

Priority: Tackling Tri-State

Compelling the American West’s largest co-op utility company and one of the nation’s largest carbon polluters to transition to clean, renewable energy.



Our Plan

Shutter coal-fired power plants

We can’t advance a doable renewable until we shut down the last, most regressive vestiges of the fossil-fuel industry: the coal-fired power plants across the West that destroy our climate and prevent the adoption of clean, local energy solutions.

Prioritize efficiency and conservation

The cleanest, cheapest form of energy is the form that’s not used or needed. Efficiencies provide the same services, but using less energy. Conservation means consuming less. There are many opportunities to increase efficiency and promote conservation.

Leverage existing infrastructure

Placing traditional solar photovoltaic panels, or even next-generation concentrated solar photovoltaic panels, on existing structures already connected to the electric grid provides enormous opportunity for generating renewable electricity.

Advance the right renewables

We’ll still need utility-scale renewable energy. When additional renewables are needed, wind and solar should be first priority. And if wind and solar are installed, they should be installed in areas already affected by development—like reclaimed coal mine land.

The Real Deal

Our vision is clear, but we’re also realists: we know that policies, politics, and money can make it difficult to ensure ideal development of renewables. At the same time, we urgently need to confront our destructive dependence on fossil fuels. The following principles are our guide when considering renewable energy development.
Wind and solar first.

Other sources of renewable energy, such as biomass, geothermal, and hydropower, pose significant impacts and uncertainties. Wind and solar generally have less of an environmental impact. Plus, they’re cheaper, more efficient, and capable of offsetting more fossil fuels.

Assess costs and benefits.

Before choosing renewables, we must fully assess the most significant costs and benefits across time and space, including the benefits to air, water, and climate from displacing fossil fuels.

No double standards.

All renewable energy development should be held to the same legal standards as any other form of development in terms of protecting wildlife, water, air, and wilderness.

Early involvement.

We strive to get involved early in the planning of renewable energy development to ensure that a broad range of siting alternatives are considered and that the alternatives with the least impact are proposed before major capital is invested in projects.

Secure commitments to offset fossil fuels.

Commitments from renewable energy companies to either a) directly offset fossil fuels and/or b) support policies that help displace fossil fuels will bring us closer to our goal.

Look for creative solutions.

The label “renewable” doesn’t automatically mean a solution will safeguard our wildlife, wild places, and wild rivers. We look for opportunities to secure commitments from companies that advance more creative ways to deal with impacts, such as conservation funds and offsite mitigation.

Support and improve good policies.

We need policies that increase efficiency, conservation, and developing distributed renewable energy, and we can’t achieve our vision without dramatically transforming current policy. If the federal government won’t budge, we’ll promote clean energy initiatives at the state, local, and regional levels.

Fight fossil fuels!

Of course, in addition to advancing renewables, we’ll continue to prevent additional oil and gas drilling, shutter coal-fired power plants, and confront new coal mining plans throughout the West.