92 percent of wind energy project neighbors positive or neutral toward turbines

Over 1.3 million U.S. homes are located within five miles of a large wind turbine. But there hadn’t been a nationwide survey to learn how those people felt about their local wind project – until now. A study led by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that more than 9 in 10 people who live close to wind turbines view them positively or neutrally.  

This is helpful information for those living in areas contemplating welcoming a wind farm. Since there is currently a large pipeline of wind projects in development, more communities will be faced with this choice in the coming years. Knowing that other communities with existing projects feel good about their choices can give reassurance to prospective wind farm hosts.  

The majority of the 1,674 survey respondents (57 percent) felt “positive” or “very positive” about their local project. That means that more wind farm neighbors like their local project than are favorable to Oprah Winfrey. And everyone loves Oprah! Even the majority of folks living closest to the turbines (within ½ mile) viewed them positively.  

These results confirm what most people who live, work, or visit communities with wind farms will tell you. While there can be division over wind projects before they’re built, once the turbines are operating they don’t bother people. This Berkeley Lab survey showed that almost five times as many individuals had a positive or very positive attitude toward their local project than negative/very negative. 

The vast majority of people living near turbines give them a thumbs up. Some people even grow to have a real penchant for them. For example, Tom Watne, a farmer in Blairsburg, Iowa described the turbines surrounding his land like this: “I thought the towers would be more irritable to your sight. But now they seem stately, quite pretty even.”  

This is the largest national survey of wind project neighbors conducted anywhere in the world to date. A high-level summary of key results was released January 24, with more to be made public in the coming months.  

To learn more about the survey, join this January 30 webinar, “Overall Analysis of Attitudes of 1,700 Wind Power Project Neighbors.”