Sarah Mills' key to the success of wind energy projects gets media attention

February 11, 2019

As the drive to develop renewable energy projects escalates, attention shifts towards harnessing wind energy as a reliable energy source. Despite the benefits wind energy provides—mainly jobs—advocates for wind energy must continue to combat residents who are reluctant to have it in their area. Ford School reseracher Sarah Mills, along with co-authors Douglas Bessette and Hannah Smith, identifies a crucial relationship between public perceptions and wind turbine initiatives, which has caught the attention of several news outlets. 

In his February 10, 2019 story for Michigan Radio, Steve Carmody susinctly details Mills’ methodology, as well as the major conclusions from the research. For the study, Mills surveyed 1,000 Michigan residents in 2014 and in 2016 to gauge changes in attitudes towards wind energy projects over that period.

After gathering their data, Mills et al determined that “on average, attitudes stayed the same.” More revealing, however, is the conclusion that “if residents feel that their voices are ignored, the perceptions of wind turbines become more negative time.” The complaints from persistent negative perceptions include “visual and noise problems, reduction of nearby property values, and human health problems.”

Furthermore, Mills’ work indicates that “if communities fail to be open and transparent when considering wind energy projects,” negative attitudes will follow. As such, Mills and her colleagues contend that their research is critical to the future success of wind energy projects.—an online forum part of Science X that publishes innovative scientific research with 5 million readers—featured her article on its website and MITECHNEWS also published a story about the reserach findings. 

Professor Mills’ article “Exploring landowners’ post-construction changes in perceptions of wind energy in Michigan” was published in Land Use Policy. To read the full scholarly article click here.

Click here to read the full Michigan Radio story.

For Mills’ feature in Science X click here and to see her feature in MITECHNEWS click here.

Read the original story on Michigan News

Sarah Mills is a Senior Project Manager at the Ford School's Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP). She serves as project manager for the National Surveys on Energy and Environment (NSEE) and the Center's Energy and Environmental Policy Initiative.

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