Supporting Regulatory Policy that Puts Community Voices First

About the Experts

Melissa Schmit
Melissa Schmit Senior Director, Permitting
Amanda Stallings

Amanda Stallings,
Senior Policy Manager

Share This Article

Rules, regulations, and government policies play a headline role in our day-to-day operations at National Grid Renewables. We’re an organization that’s built on our commitment to do the right thing, and we’re strong believers in the role that policy and regulations play in the responsible development and operation of energy facilities.

That’s why we’ve built up a team of in-house policy experts who make sure that all of our projects are stringently following any and all regulations to the fullest degree—starting from how we identify project sites and initially talk with landowners and community members, to how we develop and construct our wind, solar, and battery facilities, all the way through to state-of-the-art decommissioning that returns the land to optimal condition. It’s our policy team’s job to ensure we comply with every rule, going above and beyond to mitigate risks, carry out our responsibilities, be a positive force in the industry, and leave the community in better shape than when they first met us.

Helping to guide forward-thinking, community-focused policy

Our policy team also takes a proactive role in helping to advocate for policy changes that strike the right balance between protecting community interests, while also enabling innovation and economic development that serves the public good. There’s always an interesting dance between innovation and regulation. While it often seems like regulations conflict with emerging innovations, the reality is more often that innovations fundamentally shift paradigms—requiring a new cost-benefit analysis that drives a reexamination and reimagination of policy and regulations to strike that balance between community protection and commercial enablement (and ultimately supports the community).

For example, as the automobile first gained widespread adoption, we needed new regulations to make the way cars were built and operated safer—so the benefits of cars could ultimately extend to more people. We’re seeing the same thing in our lifetimes with computers, the internet, and other digital technologies: innovations we know are beneficial in so many ways, but also recognize a need to structure policy to protect the public—without stifling innovation.

The renewable energy sector is managing this balance on a constant basis. It’s an industry that barely existed 30 years ago and is now growing and quickly evolving thanks to much more sophisticated technologies that change the cost-benefit equation. Yet renewable energy projects in much of the country are covered by policy frameworks designed for the broader energy sector, or the renewable energy world of two decades ago.

Our policy team works alongside local, state, and federal regulators and policymakers to help modernize policies and regulatory frameworks to fit the renewable energy sector as it stands right now—and anticipate where it’s headed in the future.

At National Grid Renewables, our farmer-founded, community-focused values are our defining difference: our first commitment is to ensure we do all we can to be an asset to the communities where our projects are located, to bring positive economic value, and work diligently to mitigate risks. But we also recognize that not every organization in this sector is working with those same priorities and values. So, our policy team is advocating for a modern policy framework that puts guardrails in place to safeguard communities, while also making it possible and practical for local communities to take advantage of the economic value that renewable energy projects can bring.

People talking at community event

Giving the community a voice — and additional regulatory support

One of the “hot topics” in renewable energy policy today is the debate around state vs. local land-use permitting for renewable projects. The goal behind local permitting is simple: keep control over what happens in a community as close as possible to its members—to give community members a channel to make their voices heard.

Yet there’s a growing recognition that local-level permitting doesn’t always serve these interests as well as intended. That’s why we’ve seen a move in many states to shift permitting from the local to the state level. The overarching goal of moving to state-level permitting is to ultimately empower smaller communities with the full support and resources of state-level regulatory agencies.

Today, the volume, size, and complexity of renewable energy projects have the potential to overwhelm local resources. In some cases, communities want to fast-track projects, but a lack of resources forces them to choose between a slow and tedious full analysis—or expediting the permitting process and potentially overlooking subtle risks. Municipal and county governments are not intended to have in-house expertise in all things. That’s why, for example, we already leave complex environmental considerations to the EPA at the federal level—to ensure smaller communities are protected by the full strength of scientific analysis and rigorous assessments to validate safety. The same principle is at play with the shift to state-level land-use permitting.

On an even broader level, the shift toward state-level permitting aims to give all community members an equal voice in the consideration process. This helps to ensure that local level permitting decisions aren’t only shaped by the most vocal, influential, or wealthiest stakeholders in the area. Consistent, rigorous state-level permitting helps to create clear, frictionless channels for community members to voice their concerns; to ensure every stakeholder has an opportunity to be heard on equal footing; and to ensure that the decision-makers are not unfairly swayed by their own personal interests in the community.

Meeting people where they’re at: Not every project is right for every community

One of our guiding principles at National Grid Renewables is to meet people where they’re at. We know from experience that renewable energy can be a tremendous value-add for rural and agricultural communities. But we also know that not every project is right for every community. The core mission of our policy team is to make sure that we’re helping to guide regulations and policies that properly vet every project against the best interests of that specific community—and that we’re following those rules and regulations to the fullest extent, letting those policies steer us toward the projects that will best deliver win-win value to our business and these communities.

Meet More Experts

Contact Form

Feedback Form

This website uses cookies to better understand how visitors use our site, for advertising, and to offer you a more personalized experience. By using this website with cookies enabled in your browser, you agree to their use by this site. For more information, please review our privacy policy.