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Engaging local communities in wind energy development

NSF Award:

Landscapes of Power: Deliberating the New Energy Economy  (Macalester College)

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With the installation of large-scale wind farms throughout the U.S., many local communities are increasingly concerned about how these energy projects will impact their quality of life. Roopali Phadke and her student collaborators at Macalester College have developed new ways of engaging local residents in the development of wind energy projects to increase community participation and minimize negative landscape impacts.

Wind energy projects in rural areas can disrupt wildlife habitats and impact the visual, audio and economic aspects of local life. This research will help government leaders structure wind policies to better respond to citizens' voices and preserve cherished environments.

The Macalester College researchers tested and evaluated a public engagement model that brought diverse citizens together to discuss their concerns. The project developed scenarios, dialogues and visual simulations to support deliberation. Tested in Minnesota, Michigan and Massachusetts, the model involved local elected leaders, regional environmental and planning councils, and professional facilitators. The research has aided local communities in creating zoning and site standards to prepare for future wind energy development.

Images (1 of )

  • visual simulation of a wind project
  • participants discuss potential locations for wind energy projects
A visual simulation used to explain a wind energy project.
Roopali Phadke
Discussion of locations for wind projects.
Roopali Phadke

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