Attitudes of U.S. Wind Turbine Neighbors: Analysis of a Nationwide Survey

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Roughly 1.4 million households were estimated to be within 5 miles of an existing utility-scale wind turbine as of 2015, and that number would have expected to grow since then.  Moreover, there is evidence in the U.S. that larger wind projects (> 60 turbines) are being built increasingly closer to homes on average.  Despite these trends, there has not been a careful broad-based representative analysis of the attitudes of wind project “neighbors” to date in the U.S., nor at the population level in any country.  In 2015 and 2016, LBNL with a team of collaborators, collected data from 1,705 randomly drawn individuals living within 5 miles of all U.S. wind projects, with oversampling being done within 1 mile.  The findings indicate an overall positive attitude toward the nearby turbines, including for those living even as close as ½ mile.  Roughly 8% of the population had negative attitudes within 5 miles.  In an examination of a broad set of possible correlates to attitudes, it was found that neither demographic nor local wind project characteristics were significantly related.  Attitudes were significantly correlated with compensation, sensory perceptions of the nearby turbines, planning process perceptions, and attitudes toward wind turbines in general.  It was also found that individuals moving into the area after wind project construction were significantly more positive than those already in the community, implying that more supportive individuals might be self-selecting into the community.

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