This dissertation research uses a stated preference mail survey to collect data on public preferences for offshore wind development in Delaware. The survey was sent to 2000 randomly selected residents in September, 2006. Response rate was 52 percent.
The primary goal of this research is to shed light on how Delawareans feel about offshore wind development, and more specifically, to value public preferences for different wind development scenarios. This research is the first to use discrete choice mixed logit techniques to examine public preferences for offshore wind power in the United States. Choice experiments are used to predict whether, and if so, how, offshore wind development should proceed in Delaware. Respondents were asked to choose among different offshore wind power scenarios which can differ in five basic characteristics: the location of the wind farm; its distance from shore; the amount of rent/royalty payments made to Delaware; to where those payments would be funneled (e.g. Green Energy Fund, Beach Nourishment Fund, or General Fund); and the amount of a fee, if any, that would be added to consumers’ monthly electricity bill for three years.
The data collected in this dissertation research shows overwhelming support for offshore wind power among Delaware residents. Of the approximately 2695 total recorded choice occasions in the dataset, a combined 93 percent chose offshore wind power while 7 percent chose coal or natural gas. While 95 percent of the respondents chose wind power when offered at no cost, more than 91 percent still chose wind power even when told they would have to pay a monthly fee for three years. This suggests that factors other than initial cost may be more important in people’s preferences for offshore wind power, such as cleaner air and increased price stability in the long-term.
Results indicate there will be significant social benefits associated with moving wind turbines offshore to reduce visual impacts. Statewide, Delaware residents are willing to pay a grand total of $132, $181, $219, $247, $268 and $296 million dollars to move turbines out from a baseline of 0.9 miles to 3.6, 6, 9, 12, 15, and 20 miles, respectively. Moreover, simulation results indicate a willingness to pay of between $45 and $50/month/household for three years for wind power projects located off the Delaware coast. When aggregated over the total number of households in the State, Delaware residents as a whole show a total willingness to pay of between $500 million and $555 million for wind power projects to be located in Delaware Bay, off of Rehoboth Beach, or off of Fenwick Island, versus expansion of coal or natural gas power.