- Residents in two South Dakota counties expressed satisfaction with the opportunities wind development brought to their communities by two very different wind projects. Of 238 respondents, divided between the two sites, some 91% expressed support for local wind energy, according to a survey done by South Dakota State University researchers.
- A 27 turbine project was built in 2003 in Hyde County. A 10 turbine project was built in 2009 in Hand County after British Petroleum planned to build a 1,000 turbine project but gave it up for natural gas development, according to Midwest Energy News.
- The researchers found residents in both places started with positive expectations that were not met about how wind would impact their local economies. But both communities largely retained their favorable impressions and perceived the projects to have helped fend off economic decline and population loss.
The researchers were surprised to find that many wind opponents identified themselves as strong environmentalists, but say earlier experience in Pennsylvania replicates their results. They told Midwest Energy News that those opposed to development often identified disturbances to wildlife and the natural landscape as some of their chief concerns.
By and large, though, the researchers found more aesthetic support for the wind turbines than concern.
The South Dakota State team asked residents if they found turbines more beautiful when in motion or when stopped and found more favor for the first.
“A lot of people in the Great Plains see the land as a place for producing things. When the turbines are in motion and producing electricity, things are getting done,” the researchers concluded.