Opportunities, Barriers, Policy and Practice
Edited by Shane Fudge, Michael Peters, Steven M. Hoffman and Walter Wehrmeyer
Chapter 12: Institutional and community-based initiatives in energy planning
On 4 May 2007, Greensburg was a declining farm community in southcentral Kansas with a population of about 1400. That evening, an EF-5 strength tornado touched down more than 75 times, killing 11 people and destroying or severely damaging 90 per cent of the city. The storm left a trail of debris more than 22 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. The initial response by the community and its municipal utility was focused on the restoration of the existing electrical system (Billman, 2009, p. 5). Once attending to these immediate needs, however, the community began to envision a very different future, one based on an understanding that the nearly complete destruction of the town presented ‘a unique opportunity to create a strong community devoted to family, fostering business, [and] working together for future generations’ (Billman, 2009, p. 5). Such a community could, in large part, be built upon an energy future that would take advantage of ‘Greensburg’s vast wind resources . . . reduce energy use in buildings, industry, and infrastructure, use renewable sources for electricity and heat at the community and distributed scales, use alternative transportation vehicles, fuels, and infrastructure, and support new approaches with institutional and administrative actions’ (Billman, 2009, p. 12).
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