The predominance of economic development in the support for large-scale wind farms in the U.S. Great Plains

Michael C. Slattery, Becky L. Johnson, Jeffrey A. Swofford, Martin Pasqualetti

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Wind energy is one of the fastest growing sources of power generation in the world. While general public and political support for wind energy is often high, siting wind farms frequently raises concerns in local communities, and individual projects often fail because of effective public opposition. This paper presents the results of a postal and online survey questionnaire that explores public perceptions of wind energy in two of the most important states for wind development, Texas and Iowa. The goal is a better understanding of public reactions to large-scale wind developments as a prerequisite of more widespread use of renewable energy resources. We found a high level of public support for wind energy, with more than two-thirds of respondents being in favor of building more wind farms either in their community or within the U.S. as a whole. Given that the majority of respondents had a very high level of concern for the general environment, we also found that almost two-thirds of respondents counter-intuitively indicated that producing electricity using fossil fuels is not detrimental to the environment, and that they had little concern for global climate change. Our results suggest that arguing for more renewable sources of energy based on reducing our carbon footprint is less persuasive in these communities than simply approaching it from the perspective of wind being a clean and safe source of energy. More than two-thirds of respondents felt their county had benefited economically from the wind farms and that they were a source of job creation in the county. Support for wind power in these communities is associated far more with socioeconomic factors than foundational aesthetic or moral values, with wind farms perceived as the vehicle that will reverse economic decline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3690-3701
Number of pages12
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Attitudes
  • Iowa
  • Perception
  • Siting
  • Texas
  • Wind energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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