Perceptions play big role in how residents feel about wind energy | 2/8/2019 | Staff
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When local residents feel the planning process for building wind turbines is fair and open, their perceptions of the often-controversial energy source remain steady or improve with time, according to a University of Michigan study.

In fact, the openness with which the planning process is handled is more important in shaping residents' perceptions of wind energy than receiving a payment, researchers say.

Residents - Voices - Perceptions - Wind - Turbines

Likewise, if residents feel that their voices are ignored, their perceptions of wind turbines become less positive and, more importantly, erode over time.

"This finding shows that residents want to be heard," said lead author Sarah Mills, senior project manager and researcher at the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at U-M's Ford School of Public Policy.

Lessons - Government - Officials - Hearings - Project

"It has lessons not only for local government officials who hold public hearings to approve or deny the project, but also for wind energy companies that are developing these projects."

For the study, a 2014 survey was sent to 1,000 residents across nine townships in Michigan with wind turbines to gauge their perceptions about impacts of wind energy. The same respondents were surveyed again in 2016 and asked the same questions to see how their perceptions had changed two years later.

Mills - Colleagues - Average - Residents - Wind

Mills and colleagues found that, on average, attitudes stayed roughly the same. Most residents agreed that wind turbines create jobs and provide revenue to landowners, while most disagreed—on both surveys—that wind turbines cause health problems or create noise pollution.

"This averaging, though, masks the shifts in opinion that occur in both directions," said study co-author Doug Bessette, an assistant professor in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University.

Researchers - Data

To test it, the researchers broke the data down to see if...
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