Local Resistance to Wind Energy Projects in Languedoc-Roussillon

Special Report: Network Planning: New Forms and Challenges in Planning Network Infrastructure
By Stéphane Chataignier, Arthur Jobert

Wind energy seems to be the only option for France to comply to the European directive on renewable energies’ promotion (which seeks to shift the renewable energy-based electricity production’s share from 15 % to 21 %). At the beginning of 2000, the Jospin government decided to change from an invitation to tender (2005 Eole Program) to a policy based on guaranteed buyback prices of the energy produced. The buyback price was fixed at a very rewarding level. Numerous companies thus began to prospect intensively the French territory in search of favourable sites. Not surprisingly, it induced local controversies. This paper is based on a case study in Languedoc-Roussillon undertaken during of the first semester of 2002, and highlights an interesting “moment” when the “new forms of deliberation” or of planning appeared to be forgotten and replaced by a pure market-like rationality in the context of the electricity market’s deregulation. Those economic tools are powerful but their confrontation with territorial logics, by taking no account of the territories’ projects, generates “unacceptability.” Above all they induce the hostility of local actors who denounce the opacity and the “anarchy” of the system. In order to overcome the crisis, land-planning is rediscovered as a necessity. However this does not result on a return back to square one, but in a policy mix combining competition, decentralization and “incentive” planning. Will this be sufficient to limit the “collateral damages” of the guaranteed prices’ system?

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