Are You a Star Wars or Star Trek Fan? 

Nunzio Peleggi, Zondits guest, 8/1/2023

Star Date 2023: The need to hyper speed or warp speed, or the deployment of clean power and grid infrastructure.

If you’re a Star Trek fan, then it’s Warp speed, if you’re a Star Wars fan, then it’s hyper speed.  Both allow you to travel faster than the speed of light. Well, in the movies anyway.  

So, what does that have to do with clean power?  To reach near net zero emissions targets, we need to deploy six times the number of projects deployed in the past 20 years over the next 20 years. That is a tall order, and we are not going to get there with the current way we approach the problem. But perhaps it’s achievable if we rethink the process.    

I was fortunate to be invited to a roundtable on Accelerating Clean Power in Washington, DC.  The roundtable was in collaboration with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), and the World Economic Forum. The goal was to discuss solutions to regulatory and permitting challenges leveraging public-private cooperation. 

Following the roundtable, I spent some time gathering my thoughts about what we can do to reach warp speed. (OK, Star Wars fan here.) 

Federal Government Challenges 

  • FAA process for “simple” issues can take 18 months or more  
  • Limited development is taking place on federal lands  
  • The clean energy industry needs faster guidance on the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provisions  
  • A method to speed the construction of transmission networks is needed 

Regional / State  

  • States, local governments, and tribes need to come together to approve transmission interconnects in reasonable timeframes 
  • Independent System Operators (ISOs) need to streamline planning processes for grid expansions  

The amount of local governmental backlash to clean energy action is alarming.  

The Columbia Law School Sabin Center for Climate Change tracks climate-related legislation in each of the US states. Their 2023 annual report was published this May and reports that a growing number of states and local governments have enacted legislation restricting renewable energy projects. 

The reported restrictions include: Opposition to Renewable Energy Facilities in the United States: May 2023 Edition ( 

  • 228 local restrictions across 35 states. 
  • 59 local restrictions that have been adopted in the past year.  
  • 9 state-level restrictions, that are so burdensome that they effectively block projects.  
  • 293 renewable energy projects that have encountered significant opposition in 45 states. 82 of these opposition efforts were initiated in the past year. 
  • An overall 35% increase in local restrictions between March 2022 and May 2023 (from 169 to 228).

It is a big lift to achieve net zero in the accelerated pace that climate activists seek. But, the public and private groups that gathered for the roundtable on Accelerating Clean Power have an inspiring message that if we can get past the culture wars and get to work, we can achieve our goals.