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Opinions on wind energy linked to whether people feel they had input into turbine projects

Paulo Valdivieso

A new study says when people feel they have a say in local wind turbine projects, they are more likely to have positive opinions about wind energy.

The study, out of the University of Michigan, looked at four wind turbine projects across the state.

It surveyed residents close to the turbines twice to see how -or if - their feelings towards the projects changed.

Dr. Sarah Mills is a researcher. She said the best predictor of people's attitudes towards wind turbines is whether they felt the community had input into the project. Mills said she surveyed residents about how perceived project fairness.

“Those statements include whether or not they thought they had an opportunity to provide input, whether they think that the wind developer acted openly and transparently, whether they thought the community was able to influence the outcome of the project.”

If residents felt the project was fair, their attitudes started positive and became more positive over time.

“The other group of people are people who felt that the planning process wasn't fair. Their attitudes start a little bit lower and over time they actually decline. They become more negative towards the project over time.”

Mills said research across the country is showing that the perception of fairness is essential for projects. She said her research shows it’s not just important in the short term but in the long term as well.