Exploring landowners’ post-construction changes in perceptions of wind energy in Michigan

Researchers have suggested that residents’ acceptance of wind turbines follow a U-shaped curve over time, starting with generally positive attitudes about wind energy, dipping once a project is proposed, and then rebounding after construction. This research considers how residents’ perceptions of the benefits and negative impacts of wind turbines shift post-construction by surveying the same individuals (n = 520) at two time periods after a nearby wind project became operational. We find that residents’ perceptions follow two separate trajectories based on their perception of the fairness of the wind siting planning process and—to a lesser extent—whether they have a direct financial stake in the wind project. Residents who perceived a fair planning process tended to perceive greater benefits of wind turbines, job creation, and revenues for landowners specifically, while residents who perceived an unfair process perceived significantly greater negative impacts, including visual and noise problems, reduction of nearby property values, and human health problems. These results suggest that while energy business models that extent direct financial compensation to more landowners impact the attitudes of residents in the short- term, resident attitudes about procedural justice may have implications that extend well beyond the project planning stage, impacting long-term support for adding new and repowering old turbines.



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