Wind energy is now recognized as an important energy resource throughout the world. Within the United States, the state of Texas currently has the largest wind energy capacity with 8797 total megawatts and an additional 660 MW under construction. With this rapid growth, it is important to achieve a better understanding of how wind energy is being perceived by the public.
This paper explores three research strands: (i) describing the environmental attitudes of a population in close proximity to a wind farm development, (ii) determining the influence that proximity has on wind energy attitudes, and (iii) determining if the Not-In-My-Backyard (Nimby) phenomenon is appropriate for explaining human perceptions of wind energy. A survey questionnaire was developed to explore perceptions of wind energy in the region as well as general attitudes about energy and the environment.
Results regarding general wind energy attitudes signify overall public support for wind energy. In addition, those living closest to the wind farm indicate the lowest levels of support, while those living farthest away indicate much stronger support. Findings support the view that the use of Nimby does not adequately explain the attitudes of local wind farm opposition. Alternative explanations and planning implications are discussed with a focus on public participation and education.