|dc.description.abstract||Wind energy development has the potential to play a substantial role in the transition from
dependence on fossil fuels to the use of renewable energy sources, and thus to contribute to efforts
to mitigate climate change. However, local opposition has at times been a barrier to wind energy
development. The literature has increasingly suggested that how wind energy projects are
developed has a significant influence on the degree to which local people support or oppose those
projects. This is reflected in a growing interest in “community” wind energy among academics,
policymakers, and wind energy developers. Although the term “community” has been used to
label a variety of types of wind energy developments, it generally means that local people are
involved in planning and/or owning the wind energy project. In Nova Scotia, the recently
introduced Community Feed-in Tariff (COMFIT) Program has helped drive an increased interest
in “community” wind energy. Many of the newly proposed projects under COMFIT will offer
local people the opportunity to invest in the projects through Community Economic Development
Investment Funds (CEDIFs). However, little prior research has examined how shareholding and
other forms of local involvement influence local support for wind energy projects in Nova Scotia.
Furthermore, previous studies have not examined what factors lead to a sense of “community
ownership” of these projects.
The present study explored the relative influence of local project initiation, participation,
and investment on local perceptions of three small-scale small scale wind energy projects in Nova
Scotia: the Maryvale, Spiddle Hill, and Watt Section wind energy projects. These projects had
differing levels of local involvement in terms of whether or not shareholding was available and
whether or not the project was locally initiated. A mail-out questionnaire was sent to local
residents surrounding the projects. A comparison of local perceptions among the three projects
was conducted using analysis of variance, and predictors of local perceptions were determined
using stepwise multiple linear regression.
No relationship was found between local project support and either local project initiation
or local shareholding, while a statistically significant but weak relationship was found between
local project support and perceived community participation in the project planning process. A
sense of “community ownership” was found to be related to both local participation and local
project initiation, and to a lesser degree to local investment opportunities.
These results suggest that the extent to which a developer engages with the local
community and is able to involve local people in the project planning process may be a more
important determinant of local perceptions than whether the project idea comes from within the
community and whether the opportunity is offered for local investment in the project. Therefore,
while shareholding may be a useful component of a local engagement strategy, developers and
policymakers seeking to promote “community” wind energy may want to ensure that strategies are
also employed to involve local people in the project planning process.
However, the results must also be considered in light of the limitations of the study,
including a relatively low response rate of 10% for the survey and the case study approach of
examining only three projects. Future studies could examine how the results would compare for a
larger number of projects, for other forms of “community” wind energy, and for wind energy
projects of different sizes. Furthermore, since a sense of “community ownership” was not found
to lead to higher degree of overall community support in the case of these three projects, future
research could explore other ways in which a sense of “community ownership” of wind energy
projects may be valuable.
Keywords: benefits, Community Economic Development Investment Fund, Community Feed-in Tariff, community renewable energy, local ownership, project support, public acceptance, sense of community ownership, shareholding, wind power||en_US