Presentation Description: To increase the likelihood of future success of commercial-scale renewable energy, longitudinal community attitudes must first be understood to properly engage communities, curry public acceptance, and reduce opposition. Accordingly, this study’s purpose is to augment the paucity of longitudinal research on public acceptance of renewable energy with a mixed methods approach – the first study of its kind.
We explore how attitudes towards the Block Island Offshore Wind Project changed over a three-year period, roughly aligning with pre-turbine installation, and operation phases of the project. The presentation includes analysis of panel data (2016, 2018) from a survey of 397 Block Island and coastal Rhode Island residents, including how acceptance levels and opinions about turbine visibility, fit, and general effects changed over time. A regression model is employed to observe how these attitudes were influenced by internal factors (e.g., attributes such as confidence in opinion and knowledge about the project) and external factors (e.g., turbine visibility, look, and fit with the landscape). Responses gleaned from semi-structured interviews further demonstrate subjects’ reactions to these internal and external factors, while also providing additional insights about why some attitudes remained stable while others shifted. The multi-layered combination of results is critical in assisting not only the offshore wind industry in building community relations and acceptance, but also for commercial-scale solar and onshore wind.
...comprehend new-to-the-field information about why attitudes towards an offshore wind project may change or stay stable from construction to operation.
...use the information to build a community relations plan that is efficient for the developer and fair for the various stakeholders involved.
...apply the conclusions to community engagement outside of the offshore wind sector - the research is applicable to solar, onshore wind, and other marine renewable technologies.