Date of Completion

2017

Document Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Natural Resources

Type of Thesis

Honors College

First Advisor

Dr. Brendan Fisher

Second Advisor

Dr. Clare Ginger

Third Advisor

Jody Prescott

Keywords

Wind energy, Vermont, proximity hypothesis, questionnaire

Abstract

This research examines how proximity to wind farms influences public perceptions of wind energy in Vermont. Despite overall public support for wind energy in Vermont, opposition to specific utility-scale wind energy facilities arises, commonly by those people living adjacent to the site of the proposed development. Often, the NIMBY explanation is used to characterize the geographic schism that emerges. Under this explanation, it is theorized that the closer an individual is in proximity to a wind farm, the greater their opposition or negative attitudes towards it will be, referred to as the ‘proximity hypothesis.’ A questionnaire was developed to determine what influence proximity has on public perceptions of wind energy in Vermont. Results indicate that the majority of respondents support wind energy; further, distance to Georgia Mountain Community Wind farm was not found to influence attitudes towards wind energy. Further, environmental and political factors shape local perceptions of wind energy. As Vermont transitions to a local, renewable energy system, managing public perception and addressing municipal concerns towards wind energy will become increasingly important. While tradeoffs are inherent with any energy-generation facility, utility-scale wind energy facilities will increasingly expand to locations that Vermont communities value for aesthetic or environmental reasons; consequently, a degree of public resistance is unavoidable. Thus, decision-making that engages individuals from different interests in Vermont is necessary to determine the future of wind energy in Vermont.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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