GEOG 469
Energy Industry Applications of GIS

Lesson 10 - Addressing Negative Public Comments


An Overview of Lesson 10

people sitting in a board room
Figure 10.1: Project Team Interactions

Public participation in siting of new transmission lines has a long and storied history. In the early days of siting, public participation was neglected, or had little input from the public (regardless of the opposition) because adding new electric capacity was seen as acting for society's greater good. Many properties were taken by eminent domain, or by deals with property owners that benefited the utility.

As time went on and the public became aware of the negative consequences of locating landfills near populated areas, the phenomena of "Not in My Back Yard" (NIMBY) became very popular and changed the way siting of public facilities was conducted. NIMBY ushered in the era of public participation where the public was given a place at the table from the initial stages of siting through final approval. Today, public participation plays a significant role in the planning of new public facilities, and in particular, the siting of new overhead electric transmission lines.

This lesson will introduce you to the negative side of the siting process and how the public, using the Internet, protest letters, and even social media, can impact how utilities must address this opposition.

What will we learn in Lesson 10?

Your goal in this lesson is to understand what can cause negative public perceptions when there is a proposal to construct a new electric transmission line through a populated area. You will learn how to address this negative opposition by drafting a plan to deal with it early in the planning process.

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • identify negative opposition to a project;
  • develop a plan to engage the public early on in the siting process;
  • develop responses to opposition letters; and
  • incorporate public participation changes into the final siting plan.

What is due for Lesson 10?

This lesson will take us one week to complete. Please refer to the Calendar for specific time frames and due dates. Specific directions for the assignments below can be found within this lesson.

  • Review the three opposition letters sent and prepare responses to them.
  • Prepare an internal Public Participation Document that will be used to address opposition and mitigate the potential for new opposition, as well as how the public will be engaged in the siting review process.


If you have any questions, please post them to our Questions? discussion forum. I will check that discussion forum daily to respond. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help out a classmate.