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Social Friction: Who Decides What is Beautiful?

Wind might be clean, necessary and economically advantageous, but it's still industrial development. That makes it particularly difficult to develop projects in areas of the Northeast, where the best places to put wind farms are often on mountaintops and ridge lines. And that, of course, increases the likelihood of social friction.

In this podcast, we'll look at the myriad challenges in building wind farms in densely populated, mountainous regions like the Northeastern U.S., and talk to some developers about how they manage risk and work with communities to build support.


We'll start off by looking at a proposed wind farm in New Hampshire, where some residents are upset about the potential visual impact to the state's heavily forested landscape. Eolian Renewable Energy CEO Jack Kenworthy tells us about how the company is working with citizens to address their concerns.

Landowner Michael Ott describes his personal transition from a self-proclaimed “NIMBY” into a supporter of the 16-MW wind farm.

Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council (and former New Hampshire resident) discusses the potential impact of wind on the New England energy mix, as well as the difficulties in defining what is “beautiful.”

Annie Law, a local resident, talks about why she supports renewable energy, but does not support it on the ridge lines of New Hampshire mountain tops.

And Ryan Wiser, a chief scientist with the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, tells us about a new study showing that wind farms do not have a widespread negative impact on property values.

We'll wrap up the show with a roundtable discussion with a group of wind professionals who have some advice on how to work with citizens when developing projects that will change the visual character of their communities.

Charlie Howland, formerly of the Penn Energy Trust and now with the Environmental Protection Agency, talks about how the “fear of the unknown” can hold up a project.

Tom Stebbins, a project manager with Horizon Wind, describes his company's efforts to create citizen action groups in favor of wind farms.

And Al Maiorino of the Public Strategy Group, talks about why opponents of projects are more likely to organize than supporters.

Inside Renewable Energy is a weekly audio news program featuring stories and interviews on all the latest developments in the renewable energy industries.

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I am a reporter with, a blog published by the Center for American Progress. I am former editor and producer for, where I contributed stories and hosted the Inside Renewable Energy Podcast. Keep in to...


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