Date of Completion
Honors College Thesis
Dr. Brendan Fisher
Dr. Clare Ginger
Wind energy, Vermont, proximity hypothesis, questionnaire
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.
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Pidala, Nicole, "Public Perceptions of Wind Energy in Vermont: The Role of Physical, Social, and Environmental Parameters in the Vermont Wind Energy Debate" (2017). UVM Honors College Senior Theses. 182.