Local Energy

74 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2010 Last revised: 17 Nov 2011

See all articles by Garrick B. Pursley

Garrick B. Pursley

Florida State University - College of Law

Hannah Jacobs Wiseman

Penn State Law – University Park


At a point in the future that is no longer remote, renewable energy will be a necessity. The construction of large renewable farms will be 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 domestic innovation led by renewables 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 insufficient for this energy transition and stifles the efforts of these pioneers. Public bodies must therefore embark upon a substantial overhaul of land-energy rules: regulations that place requirements on renewable technology construction and govern its physical location. This Article asks, from a comparative institutional perspective, what level of government will best ensure that land-energy rules enable a drive toward distributed renewable energy and concludes that the powers of municipal governments in this field 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.

Keywords: Constitutional Law, Federalism, Energy Law, Utilities Law, Wind, Solar, Geothermal, Environmental Law, Land Use, Law and Technology, Property, Science and Technology, State and Local Government Law,

Suggested Citation

Pursley, Garrick and Wiseman, Hannah Jacobs, Local Energy. Emory Law Journal, Vol. 60, No. 4, March-April 2011, U of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 168, Energy Center Research Paper No. 04-10, University of Toledo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-13, University of Tulsa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-04, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1567585

Garrick Pursley (Contact Author)

Florida State University - College of Law ( email )

425 W. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306
United States

Hannah Jacobs Wiseman

Penn State Law – University Park ( email )

Lewis Katz Building
University Park, PA 16802
United States

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