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Engaging Communities in Offshore Wind: Case Studies and Lessons Learned from New England Islands


Abstract and Figures

In order to diversify sources of energy, reduce carbon emissions and meet growing demands for electricity, dozens of offshore wind farm sites are currently under consideration in the U.S. The Island Institute, a nonprofit community development organization based in Rockland, Maine, advocates for meaningful public engagement during decision-making processes, including those involving island communities and offshore wind. This organization engages local stakeholders, wind farm developers, scientists, engineers, state and federal agency decision-makers and others to learn from each other and carefully consider the trade-offs involved in developing an offshore wind farm. We highlight key insights on designing good stakeholder engagement processes in which local community members can help shape the offshore wind development process. This report is based on both the Island Institute’s work with coastal and island communities on energy issues since 2008 and also a review of relevant literature. We recommend making mutual learning accessible. This entails providing readily available and appropriate information (e.g., fact sheets and interactive web portals that use language for a public audience), designing deliberative learning opportuni es (e.g., iterative stakeholder meetings, inter-community exchanges), timing stakeholder engagement a year or more before site selection, and enlisting bridging organizations to act as liaisons between communities and developers. We also highlight the need for collaboratively developed community benefits as part offshore wind farm development. Defining appropriate community benefits requires that developers, government authorities, and communities reach a common understanding of who the recipient communities should be, what kind of benefits are suitable, what the impacts are, and how communities, benefits and impacts relate to each other. We illustrate these lessons learned with three case studies: 1) a wind farm near Block Island, Rhode Island, which, as of 2015, is on track to be the rst installed o shore wind project in the U.S.; 2) a proposed o shore wind farm near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachuse s that is currently moving through regulatory processes; and 3) a proposed o shore wind project near Monhegan, Maine where developers are focusing on re ning their oa ng turbine prototype. Our findings are not a comprehensive guide for engaging communities impacted by potential wind farms in order to guarantee community consent. Instead, we seek to improve the decision process and the quality of the interactions between communities and project developers in the hopes of creating better outcomes. We strive to explain the lessons we learned in practical ways using case studies to help practitioners bring insight from decision theory into practice. We seek to share these lessons to improve decision-making processes associated with novel uses of the ocean, particularly for generating renewable energy.
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Engaging Communies in
Oshore Wind
Case Studies and Lessons Learned from New England Islands
Sarah Klain
Suzanne MacDonald
Nicholas Basta
December 2015
2 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Execuve Summary 3
1. Introducon 4
1.1. Lessons Learned for Engaging New England Coastal Communies 6
2. Background on Oshore Wind Projects 8
2.1. Concerns Associated with Oshore Wind Projects 10
2.2. Why Does Stakeholder Engagement Maer? 12
3. Lesson 1: Make Mutual Learning Accessible 13
3.1. Readily Available and Appropriate Informaon 14
3.2. Deliberave Learning 15
3.3. Mindful of the Messenger 15
3.4. Bridging Organizaons 16
3.5. Timing: Substanal Public Engagement Before Sites are Selected 16
4. Lesson 2: Provide Community Benets 18
4.1. Deliberaon to Determine Community Benets 20
4.2. Flexible Models for Custom Tailored Benets 22
5. Case Studies 23
5.1. The Ocean State’s Oshore Wind Farm Pioneers, Block Island, RI 28
5.2. A Cooperave Approach to Oshore Wind on Martha’s Vineyard, MA 30
5.3. Confronng Deep Water Challenges on Monhegan Island, ME 31
6. Recommendaons 34
7. References 37
Appendix A. Example Output from Mapping Working Waters 42
Table of Contents
The authors wish to thank our reviewers from Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, Monhegan, and
the oshore wind and ocean planning sectors for their valuable feedback on the report. Special
thanks also go to Island Instute sta (Brooks Winner, Rebecca Clark, Heather Deese, and Eric
Wayne) for their contribuons to the research and report development processes.
This report was created with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy’s WINDExchange
program and the Islanded Grid Resource Center; the University of Brish Columbia’s Instute
for Resources, Environment and Sustainability and BRITE Internship Program; the Gordon and
Bey Moore Foundaon; and private foundaons. We would also like to acknowledge previous
support from mulple private and public enes that enabled the programming and engagement
eorts described in this report.
Institute for Resources,
Environment & Sustainability
University of British Columbia
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 3
Execuve Summary
In an eort to diversify sources of energy, reduce carbon emissions, and meet growing
demands for electricity, dozens of oshore wind farm sites are currently under
consideraon in the U.S. The Island Instute, a nonprot community development
organizaon based in Rockland, Maine, advocates for meaningful public engagement
during decision-making processes, including those involving island communies and
oshore wind. This organizaon engages local stakeholders, wind farm developers,
sciensts, engineers, state and federal agency decision-makers and others to learn from
each other and carefully consider the trade-os involved in developing an oshore wind
We highlight key insights on designing good stakeholder engagement processes in which
local community members can help shape the oshore wind development process. This
report is based on both the Island Instute’s work with coastal and island communies
on energy issues since 2008 and also a review of relevant literature. We recommend
making mutual learning accessible. This entails providing readily available and
appropriate informaon (e.g., fact sheets and interacve web portals that use language
for a public audience), designing deliberave learning opportunies (e.g., iterave
stakeholder meengs, inter-community exchanges), ming stakeholder engagement a
year or more before site selecon, and enlisng bridging organizaons to act as liaisons
between communies and developers. We also highlight the need for collaboravely
developed community benets as part of oshore wind farm development. Dening
appropriate community benets requires that developers, government authories, and
communies reach a common understanding of who the recipient communies should
be, what kind of benets are suitable, what the impacts are, and how communies,
benets and impacts relate to each other. We illustrate these lessons learned with three
case studies: 1) a wind farm near Block Island, Rhode Island, which, as of 2015, is on
track to be the rst installed oshore wind project in the U.S.; 2) a proposed oshore
wind farm near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachuses that is currently moving through
regulatory processes; and 3) a proposed oshore wind project near Monhegan, Maine
where developers are focusing on rening their oang turbine prototype.
Our ndings are not a comprehensive guide for engaging communies impacted by
potenal wind farms in order to guarantee community consent. Instead, we seek to
improve the decision process and the quality of the interacons between communies
and project developers in the hopes of creang beer outcomes. We strive to explain
the lessons we learned in praccal ways using case studies to help praconers bring
insight from decision theory into pracce. We seek to share these lessons to improve
decision-making processes associated with novel uses of the ocean, parcularly for
generang renewable energy.
On the cover: Sited through a collaborave process and extensive local engagement, the ten
oshore wind turbines surrounding Samsø Island, Denmark provided benet in the form of
investment opportunies for the municipality, island farmers, and private corporaons.
4 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 5
For millennia, wind has propelled sailboats for selement and trade across the world. In
the last century, fossil fuels replaced our economic reliance on oshore winds. Today we
are harnessing them once again, this me to generate renewable electricity. The total
installed capacity of oshore wind farms as of 2015 was 8,990 MW globally, most of
which was built o the coast of Northern Europe. This may increase to 47,000 MW or
more by 2020 based on the number and size of projects under consideraon in Europe,
North America, and Asia (Smith et al., 2015).
Careful community engagement is needed when considering oshore wind farms and
other new ocean technologies in order to achieve mulple environmental and economic
objecves in our increasingly crowded oceans. We write from the perspecve of the
Island Instute, a non-prot community development organizaon that contributes
to such community engagement eorts. The Island Instute works to sustain Maine’s
island and remote coastal communies, and exchanges ideas and experiences to further
the sustainability of communies in Maine and elsewhere. This mission is accomplished
by working closely with communies, developers, and decision makers to support
eecve stakeholder engagement and outreach processes related to oshore wind and
other coastal issues. Our work aims to ensure that local communies in close proximity
to renewable energy developments derive benets from these projects and harmful
impacts are minimized.
Some island communies in the U.S. have found themselves at the forefront of oshore
wind debates due to their locaons near proposed wind farm sites, as well as economic
and cultural connecons to adjacent ocean spaces (e.g., reliance on shing, sense of
place reinforced by aesthec views). Due to their proximity to the rst oshore wind
projects in North America, New England island residents are likely to be among the
rst posively and/or negavely impacted by this technology. Island community
members may inuence the future of this industry by obstrucng (e.g., ling lawsuits),
accommodang, or championing this new use of ocean space.
Renewable energy infrastructure is becoming increasingly common in and near where
people live. Electricity producon from non-hydro electric renewable energy sources is
expected to increase by 25% from 2013 to 2018 (EIA, 2015). In 2015, the U.S. commied
to increasing non-hydroelectric renewable energy generaon to 20% of the U.S. total
by 2030. This includes a projected 22,000 MW of oshore wind, which could power
4.5 million homes (DOE, 2015; OPS, 2015). Given that construcon began in 2015 on
the rst U.S. oshore wind farm, and others are currently under consideraon, we are
movated to reect on and learn from how community engagement was conducted
regarding wind projects proposed and underway near New England islands.
This report examines the experiences of three New England island communies to
demonstrate key lessons about stakeholder engagement in oshore wind: Block Island,
RI, where the construcon of North America’s rst oshore wind farm is underway,
as well as Martha’s Vineyard, MA, and Monhegan, ME, where proposed oshore wind
projects have yet to reach their nal design, nancing, or construcon phases. We share
these stories not in an aempt to provide a manual for engaging communies adjacent
to potenal oshore wind farms or to advocate for increased social acceptance of
wind farms. Instead, our aim is to improve the decision process and the quality of the
interacons among people with dierent objecves in the hopes of creang more
equitable and acceptable outcomes. It is our hope that these insights will inform the
project developers, communies, policymakers, and agency sta that are seeking to
evaluate new, long-term, exclusive ocean uses so that stakeholders can learn from
each other and carefully consider the challenging trade-os involved in developing an
oshore wind farm.
6 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
We highlight two overarching insights based on the Island Instute’s direct and peripheral
involvement with stakeholder engagement related to oshore wind proposals and
relevant literature. First, we recommend making mutual learning accessible, including
values and facts. Values can reect community priories, place aachments, and the
signicance that people associate with places. Facts can be derived from relevant
science, engineering, and local knowledge. In contrast to scienc knowledge based
on quantave data and controlled experiments, local knowledge is based on personal
observaon, tends to be more holisc and less reduconist than Western science,
and is rooted in the experience of place. Local knowledge tends to focus on me—and
context-specic concerns rather than on deriving generalizable rules (Gregory et al.,
Accessible learning opportunies involve proponents and local stakeholders learning
from each other in a group seng, which can be described as deliberave learning
(Gregory et al., 2012). Appropriately ming the engagement eorts is part of making
this learning accessible. The character and so skills of the chosen messenger(s) can
have substanal consequences. If the values and manner in which proponents provide
informaon oends community stakeholders, learning opportunies may disintegrate
and stakeholders may be less likely to accept the project. Similarly, if community
members withhold informaon about place aachments or other threatened values,
developers cannot incorporate these into the project design. Bridging organizaons,
who are accountable to local communies and project proponents, can not only help
translate facts and values but also create opportunies for the co-producon and
sharing of knowledge to inform decision making. As noted by Pomeroy et al. (2014),
we recommend that oshore wind farm project proponents and others designing
community engagement processes acknowledge and address potenal power and
economic imbalances between local community members and well-nanced project
proponents “from away,” a colloquial Maine term for people who are not local residents
and tend not to be familiar with local ocean uses and local values.
As idened by our case studies and Dietz (2013), creang an environment of respect
and incorporang various types of knowledge (e.g., local, experienal, scienc) is crical
for making learning accessible, improving the decision-making process, and potenally
improving social acceptance of the outcome. These mutual learning opportunies are
part of a consultave project design process, in which a wide range of facts and values
are incorporated into the project outcome (e.g., the project is accepted or rejected,
the scale of the farm is modied to accommodate social, economic, and environmental
concerns, the locaon is shied based on avoiding heavily shed areas important to
local communies).
The second insight we highlight is the importance of creang appropriate community
benets for people living near and/or potenally most impacted by a development.
Community benets aim to address the mismatch between oshore wind farms’ local
costs (e.g., perceived, potenal, or likely impact to views, the local environment, pre-
exisng acvies like shing, and ancipated future uses) and regional or global benets
(e.g., decreased carbon emissions, diversied electricity sources). Our experiences with
community benets in three case studies align with ndings from researchers who have
focused on oshore wind farm development in Europe. Aitken (2010) demonstrates
how dening and creang suitable community benets, including but not limited to
opportunies for local ownership, investment, and/or control, can help improve public
acceptance of projects in the UK. In order to build trust and percepons of fairness,
Lessons Learned for Engaging New
England Coastal Communies
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 7
Walker et al., (2014) emphasizes that it is important that community benets are not
perceived as bribes for consent. Rather, as corroborated by our case studies and the
literature on this topic, community benets can build local support if they are “perceived
as a means of creang greater equity” (Aitken, 2010, p. 68).
Various researchers and organizaons have compiled best pracces for stakeholder
engagement related to both onshore and oshore wind (CanWEA, 2011; Ecology
and Environment, Inc, 2015; IEA Wind, 2012). These publicaons explain how wind
farm sing and development processes can benet from meaningful engagement with
local communies, draw on local knowledge, implement fair and transparent decision
processes, and provide local benets. The eld of decision science demonstrates that
interacve and iterave engagement processes involving deliberave learning (learning
among all parcipants in a group seng) tend to lead to more acceptable outcomes,
greater parcipant sasfacon, and lasng, innovave soluons (Gopnik et al., 2012;
Gregory et al., 2012; Wondolleck and Yaee, 2000). Engagement processes involving
stakeholders, developers, and regulators can be designed to work through potenally
conicng priories and values among parcipants as well as uncertainty about
environmental impacts (e.g., will the development have a signicant impact on lobsters)
and social impacts (e.g., how many long-term local jobs will this development create).
Parcipatory processes involving extensive stakeholder engagement can be resource
and me-intensive, but this inial investment can result in lower long-term costs with
potenally fewer delays and it may reduce the risk of ligaon costs (Irvin and Stansbury,
2004; Randolph and Bauer, 1999). We explain our lessons learned in praccal ways using
case studies to help praconers bring insight from decision theory into pracce. Our
literature review and case studies highlight two overarching lessons we have learned
about community engagement and community benets.
Maine stakeholders including shermen and community members discuss how
oshore wind might create economic development opportunies during this
2011 informaonal tour.
8 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 9
Figure 1. The Northeast United States has strong oshore wind resources capable of providing renewable power
generaon for major populaon centers along the East Coast. Source: U.S. Department of Energy
Oshore wind power is a renewable energy source that many policymakers and energy
companies are considering as a way to produce low-carbon electricity at scale. Sciensts
esmate that U.S. oshore winds have the potenal to generate hundreds of gigawas
of power (Schwartz et al., 2010). Tapping into this potenal could reduce reliance on
fossil fuel-based electricity generaon (Snyder and Kaiser, 2009). In Europe, the oshore
wind industry has dramacally expanded in the last two decades as governments have
subsidized this industry as part of achieving carbon emission reducon goals while
providing employment opportunies (Green and Vasilakos, 2011; Toke, 2011). At the
beginning of 2015, 2,488 turbines were installed and grid connected in Europe with
8 GW of installed capacity in 74 wind farms located o the shores of 11 European
countries. Europe has 26.4 GW of ancipated installed capacity from consented
oshore wind farms and 98 GW from oshore wind farms in early planning stages
(EWEA, 2015).
In contrast to the wind-swept but sparsely populated Midwest plains in the U.S.,
Atlanc oshore wind resources are close to densely populated areas where electricity
is needed. Also, oshore wind resources tend to be stronger and steadier than onshore
wind (Kaldellis and Kapsali, 2013).
Background on
Oshore Wind Projects
10 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
In Europe and North America, many wind developers inially and incorrectly presumed
that oshore wind farm proposals would not be controversial as compared to onshore
because these farms are farther from where people live and therefore less visible and
audible (Devine-Wright and Howes, 2010; Phadke, 2010; Whitcomb and Williams, 2007).
Oshore wind farm development, however, has not been smooth sailing.
Cost is a major concern when it comes to oshore wind farms. The levelized cost of
oshore wind — the cost per megawa generated, including construcon and operang
costs over the project’s lifeme — is approximately two to ve mes more expensive than
electricity from onshore wind, hydroelectric dams, or natural gas plants (EIA, 2015). Wind
farm engineers and some economists ancipate this cost will decline as the technology
develops. A 2015 report based on UK wind farms calculated that the levelized cost of
oshore wind decreased 11% from 2010 to 2014 (EY, 2015).
Northern European countries created energy policies with nancial incenves that
spurred the development of large-scale oshore wind farms. These include feed-in taris
(a guaranteed rate per kWh for electricity from a renewable energy source), certainty
over the right of renewable energy projects to access the grid, obligaons to source an
increased proporon of electricity from renewables and other policies that provide long-
term nancial security for investment in oshore wind (Firestone et al., 2015a; Toke,
2011). In the U.S., nancing problems have impeded proposed oshore wind farms
including Cape Wind and Bluewater Wind’s Delaware project (Firestone et al., 2015a).
Early U.S. oshore wind projects, including Cape Wind, were hindered by a lack of
regulatory clarity. In 2011, the federal government established the Bureau of Ocean
Energy Management (BOEM) to improve and streamline the management of oshore
convenonal and renewable energy as well as marine mineral resources. Some states,
such as Massachuses and Rhode Island, have worked to facilitate the appropriate
sing of oshore wind near their shores by engaging in ocean planning eorts designed
to idenfy environmental issues and reduce conicts between oshore wind and other
users (Nuers and Pinto da Silva, 2012).
Like all sources of electricity, wind farms have social and environmental impacts. While
some proponents perceive wind turbines as high tech symbols of a clean, green future
(Firestone et al., 2015b), others see this technology as too expensive and, even may view it
as, a bird-killing, industrial intruder (Pasquale, 2011). Some people crique corporaons
that build oshore wind farms as seeking to privaze or “fence in” the ocean (Devine-
Wright and Howes, 2010), which has long been considered a public space (Firestone et al.,
2009; Shellenberger and Nordhaus, 2009). Addional concerns include noise polluon as
well as impacts to marine life and diminished visual qualies of a seascape (i.e., the change
in view). Potenal restricons on access to commercial and recreaonal shing grounds
are also prominent concerns (Gee and Burkhard, 2010).
New England shermen are concerned about potenal changes in access to shing
grounds as the nascent oshore wind industry develops. Currently, several commercial
sheries provide economic, social, and cultural value to coastal New England residents. In
2014, New Bedford, MA had the highest landings value of any seafood port in the country
at $329 million dollars. In that same year, Maine lobstermen landed 84% of the total U.S.
American lobster harvest, worth $487 million (Van Voorhees, 2015). This economic value
Concerns Associated with Oshore
Wind Projects
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 11
As [oshore] wind farms become a reality in the US, communicaon will be
key to making them ‘shery friendly’ and minimizing disrupons.
John Williamson, Commercial Fisheries News (2013).
Image courtesy of Aaron, @zipzooka, via ickr.
becomes even more pronounced at the level of individual coastal communies, where
up to 40% of residents hold a lobster license (Island Instute, 2012). Fishing provides the
foundaon for secondary businesses such as processing, dining, and tourism, and acve
working waterfronts are important for retaining a sense of pride and tradion, the value
of which cannot be accounted for numerically.
Consequently, shermen have raised concerns about the extent to which oshore wind
could threaten their livelihoods and wanted to know if they would be compensated for
potenal losses (Basta et al., 2013; Island Instute, 2012a). Best pracces and tools
for reconciling commercial shing interests with oshore wind development have been
compiled (Moura et al., 2015). Also, BOEM developed a set of best management pracces
to minimize and migate the potenal impact of an oshore wind industry on commercial
sheries (Ecology and Environment, Inc, 2015). We focus on community engagement
eorts with a wide range of stakeholders, including but not limited to commercial shing
12 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Sing energy infrastructure tends to be controversial. Stakeholder engagement can
inuence social acceptance, which plays an important role in the long-term success or
failure of infrastructure proposals, including technologies like oshore wind farms. One of
the most signicant challenges to the development of oshore wind power, parcularly in
the U.S., has been social acceptance of proposed sites, a common feature of media coverage
(Economist, 2010; Espinoza, 2015).
Local disapproval of a proposed wind farm is oen labeled as NIMBYism (not in my backyard),
which is dened as “an atude ascribed to persons who object to the sing of something
they regard as detrimental or hazardous in their own neighborhood, while by implicaon
raising no such objecons to similar developments elsewhere” (Simpson and Weiner,
2003, as quoted in Kempton et al., 2005, p. 125). Studies based on naonal and state polls
demonstrate high and stable levels of public support for developing renewable energy in
general (Ansolabehere and Konisky, 2014) and oshore wind in parcular (Acheson, 2012;
Firestone et al., 2009; 2012). Other studies demonstrate intense local opposion to specic
projects (Kempton et al., 2005; Wolsink, 2010). Labeling opposion as NIMBY-isms can
brush over important site-specic characteriscs, stakeholder’s values linked to place and
legimate dissasfacon with the sing process (Devine-Wright, 2009; van der Horst,
2007; Wolsink, 2000). In order to address economic, social, and environmental concerns, we
highlight two major lessons we have learned from how community engagement processes
have played out on New England islands near proposed oshore wind farm sites.
2.2 Why Does Stakeholder Engagement Maer?
Many lobstermen are concerned about mulple threats to their shery, not
just oshore wind farms. Regarding Maine island communies, disrupon
of lobstering, 'wouldn’t be the nail in the con, it would be the lid on the
con and the beginning of the end…. If there were no lobsters, there would
be no year-round residents along the coast of Maine because nobody could
aord it… if you take the lobsters away, you’ve got a dierent equaon.'”
—Island Fishermen from Islesford, Maine
(A Climate of Change: Warming Waters in Gulf of Maine, 2014)
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 13
Lesson 1:
Make Mutual Learning Accessible
14 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Our rst lesson, make mutual learning accessible, means creang an environment in
which stakeholders’ values as well as local, scienc, and polical knowledge can be
shared, understood, considered, and used in the decision process. We illustrate some
key aributes of how to make learning accessible. This includes making informaon
easily available and understandable to the intended audiences. Structuring deliberave
learning opportunies where dierent stakeholders learn from one another can also
make learning more accessible. Developers and other organizaons involved need to
pay close aenon to who they choose as messengers for communicang their values
and knowledge so they avoid alienang stakeholders. We also see ming as an important
and challenging aribute of accessibility. The following subsecons provide details on
ways to make mutual learning accessible.
Lesson 1:
Make Mutual
Learning Accessible
Tapping into local knowledge can help build rapport between community
members and project proponents: "A lot of things like being involved in the
export cable route, the shermen are very good at knowing what's on the
ground under the water. If the shermen can tap into that, it can make for
a far beer relaonship between the two."
—Merlin Jackson, shing representave for London Array oshore wind farm
(Field, 2014)
In order to have informed opinions about a proposed wind farm, people in adjacent
communies need easy access to informaon about wind farm technology in general,
the specics of the project, and how this development could impact individuals and
their communies. New informaon can inuence opinions, especially when there are
high levels of uncertainty related to a proposed project (Dietz and Stern, 2008). This
informaon should be readily available (e.g., published in locally popular newsleers,
posted on bullen boards, paper copies in public places, easy to nd online) and
communicated using language for a public audience (e.g., translate megawas generated
into how many average households’ electricity needs will be met in a year, explain what
a cable to the mainland means for island residents, explain a power oake agreement).
Local knowledge and priories oen need to be translated so that developers understand
local experse and values, such as shermen’s experse on suitable routes to lay the
cable and the locaon of prime shing areas to be avoided (Field, 2014).
Readily Available and
Appropriate Informaon
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 15
Deliberave learning is the exchange of both knowledge and values in a group seng,
which is important for developing trust, mutual respect, and reaching more sasfying
outcomes among those engaged in decision-making processes (Gregory et al., 2012).
Deliberave learning opportunies can improve stakeholder engagement in oshore
wind project consideraon and site development. These learning opportunies can
involve joint fact-nding, such as Rhode Island’s Special Area Management Plan process,
and values claricaon, such as the priorizaon of sustainability issues and potenal
soluons in the Martha’s Vineyard Island Plan. The proceeding Case Studies secon
unpacks these and other examples of deliberave learning in relaon to New England
oshore wind farms.
Collang dierent types of knowledge and sharing facts and values can help address a
potenally unequal power dynamic between project proponents “from away” and local
communies. Wind farm proponents benet from designing community engagement
strategies in which they can learn from and value the relevant experiences and
knowledge of people who could be directly impacted if the proposed development
moved forward (see Field, 2014).
During the sing process, project planners could benet from recognizing the validity
and signicance of symbolic and aecve dimensions of seascapes in the sing process
(Devine-Wright and Howes, 2010; Wiersma and Devine-Wright, 2014). For instance,
a sherman’s identy and a sense of heritage may be linked to using a parcular area
of the ocean slated for an oshore wind farm, parcularly in Maine where lobstering
territory is oen exclusive and handed down from one generaon to the next (Acheson,
2003). Island community members may see a wind farm as a threat to material (e.g.
economic livelihood) and non-material (e.g., place aachment, heritage, and identy)
benets they associate with a place (Gee, 2010). Project developers should recognize
and accommodate such concerns, which could be done within a deliberave learning
The individual or group who shares and translates facts and values among stakeholders
and proponents can strongly inuence the decision process. If the technology and its
costs and benets are not appropriately translated or people distrust the source of the
informaon, stakeholders may feel alienated or disengage from the decision process
(Wynne, 1992; 1989), and potenally become entrenched in their opinion regardless
of new informaon that arises (Kahan, 2010). Informaon, facts and, scienc
literacy alone have a limited inuence on opinions (Kahan et al., 2012). People tend
to “endorse whichever posion reinforces their connecon to others with whom
they share important commitments” (Kahan, 2010, p. 297). Arguably more important
than technical informaon, the social context in which informaon is shared and the
person presenng it (the messenger) can exert substanal inuence on atudes,
opinions, and behavior (Cialdini and Goldstein, 2004; Kahan, 2010). This encompasses
the personalies, communicaon styles, and values of people sharing informaon and
facilitang community meengs and dialogues. Skill is needed to translate technical
scienc and engineering facts in language that helps people learn rather than alienates
non-specialists. Also, in many circumstances, local knowledge and values need to be
translated for project proponents and others working at regional and larger scales to
beer understand the salience, credibility, and legimacy of local perspecves.
Deliberave Learning
Mindful of the Messenger
16 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Shiing local stakeholders from playing the role of recipients of informaon to producers
of informaon that developers and government ocials can understand, respect, and
use can be an empowering experience for local stakeholders (Tobias, 2009). Boundary
or bridging organizaons, such as the Island Instute, SeaPlan, Gulf of Maine Research
Instute, and NOAA’s Sea Grant program, can assist in this co-producon and sharing
of knowledge to inform decision making (Cash et al., 2006). Boundary or bridging
organizaons can be dened with the following characteriscs (Cash et al., 2003):
Accountability to both sides of a boundary, e.g., local communies and project
Use of “boundary objects,” e.g., maps reports, and forecasts, which actors on
dierent sides of a boundary co-produce.
Parcipaon across the boundary involving
Coordinaon of complementary experse
This boundary/bridging organizaon serves as a neutral convener (IEA Wind, 2012).
This (more) objecve third party can help run the community engagement and public
outreach process but does not push for a specic outcome, nor do they stand to
benet based on a parcular outcome. This can help to build credibility regarding the
planning process with communies (IEA Wind, 2012). Ideally, project proponents retain
an organizaon or person with excellent communicaon and facilitaon skills that the
community already trusts. Also, stakeholders are more likely to be open to learning new
informaon if the values of the messenger and/or bridging organizaon resonate with
them (Kahan, 2010).
Public mistrust, skepcism, and opposion to renewable energy proposals can be
reduced if people have meaningful and mely opportunies to voice their concerns in
decision-making (Bell et al., 2005). Literature on planning processes and environmental
management stresses the importance of engaging communies early and oen (Dietz
and Stern, 2008; Gregory et al., 2012), yet this can be challenging due to uncertaines
inherent in early stages of project development. Wind farm developers oen spend
years collecng the requisite informaon to comply with regulatory requirements and
determine opmal sites. Developers may be reluctant to share uncertain details, such
as the specic locaon of a site, before they are conrmed. During this early stage,
developers tend to share incomplete informaon when they engage in community
meengs, which can be frustrang for local stakeholders who may perceive the developer
as being dishonest by withholding informaon. The uncertainty of the impacts can also
frustrate stakeholders.
Bridging Organizaons
Timing: Substanal Public
Engagement Before Site Selecon
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 17
Upstream research can help navigate uncertaines associated with a new technology
and the impacts it may have. When conducng upstream research, sciensts,
government authories, bridging organizaons, and/or developers can discuss a new
technology with cizen groups before any choices are made regarding if and where
the technology may be used. Upstream research can help sciensts and developers
to “open innovaon processes at an early stage to listen, respond, and value public
knowledge and concerns related to risks and ethical dilemmas,” (Wilsdon and Willis,
2004, p. 28). This type of research can help answer people’s quesons, including, “Why
this technology? Why not another? Who needs it? Who is controlling it? Who benets
from it? Can they be trusted? What will it mean for myself and my family? What are the
outcomes that this technology seeks to generate? Could we get there in another, more
sustainable and cost-eecve way?” (Wilsdon and Willis, 2004, p. 28).
State, tribal, and federal agencies can iniate ocean planning to facilitate upstream
research. Ocean planning involves coordinang regional planning for current and future
ocean industry, conservaon, and recreaon. Before areas are designated for specic
ocean uses, such as oshore renewable energy development, ocean planning iniaves
have provided opportunies for data collecon, dialogue on various uses, and values
and sharing of informaon. This early engagement can help stakeholders learn about
technologies and how they could be managed without triggering place-protecve
opposion. Such opposion can stem from perceived threats to specic places that
may be important to people’s sense of identy and to which they may have other strong
aachments (Devine-Wright, 2009).
In addion to being included in ocean planning processes, BOEM also has the potenal
to facilitate upstream research as the agency interacts with state, tribal, and local
governments through task force meengs on specic oshore resource issues. This
helps in providing transparency regarding issues at dierent levels of government
and provides opportunies for stakeholders to learn and ask quesons about areas of
federal waters or specic projects. BOEM has the authority to collect and share data
on and then dene boundaries of oshore ocean areas that are available via leases to
wind farm developers (Firestone et al., 2015a). Through BOEM’s task force meengs,
informaon is directed to the specic set of stakeholders that an oshore renewable
energy project may aect. This type of early engagement with stakeholders is crical in
any ocean development project.
Early engagement can dispel community member’s potenal fears of nding out too late
to become meaningfully involved in a decision process. Clearly outlining the steps of the
process and the meline for making the decision can allow stakeholders to understand
how best to engage in the process. We recognize me and resource challenges around
iterave and potenally mul-year stakeholder involvement in a decision process. The
benets of frequent engagement can be substanal, however. Building trust among
proponents, the selected “messengers” and communies, takes me as does allowing
for new informaon and quesons to arise. Timely deliberaon on idenfying and
procuring community benets can also build trust.
18 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Lesson 2:
Provide Community Benets
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 19
Community benets are addional and disnct funds or investments that the developer
provides to communies, oen near project sites (Walker et al., 2014). Benets
associated with the generaon of renewable electricity, such as carbon reducon, are
diuse and tend to accrue at a global scale while several environmental, economic, and
landscape impacts are concentrated and local. Providing community benets above and
beyond tax revenues can play an important role in managing renewable energy scale-
related distribuonal conicts (Wolsink, 2007; Zografos and Marnez-Alier, 2009).
Community benets can help balance the provision of private and public benets
associated with an oshore wind farm. Some perceive oshore wind development as
privazing the ocean, which historically has been a public space for shing, recreang,
and other acvies (Devine-Wright and Howes, 2010; Firestone et al., 2009; Pomeroy
et al., 2014). The federal management agency overseeing the development of oshore
wind, BOEM, has public good-oriented goals, but they use market-based tools to
achieve these (e.g., aucons involving private developers). Part of BOEM’s mission
is to, “promote energy independence, environmental protecon, and economic
development,” via delineang and auconing areas of the ocean for dierent purposes,
including oshore wind farms (BOEM, 2015). BOEM’s public good-oriented goals may
be less salient to residents of communies adjacent to wind farm sites compared to
local concerns, such as displacement of shermen from shing grounds. Developers
may provide local, salient community benets for various reasons, such as to help earn
the public’s trust and create a sense of fairness associated with the project (Aitken,
2010; Cowell et al., 2011; Rudolph et al., 2015). However, as noted in European case
studies, the formaon and provision of community benets can erode or build trust and
percepons of fairness (Aitken, 2010). Establishing trust and percepons of fairness
rests on both the process of coming up with appropriate benets as well as the models
and mechanisms used to deliver the benets.
Lesson 2:
Provide Community Benets
Local impacts, such
as displacement
of shermen from
shing grounds, can
be minimized through
accessible mutual
learning and balanced
through community
benet agreements.
20 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Community benets are required by law in some contexts and are voluntary in others. For
example, land-based wind developers in Maine must pay host communies according
to the number of installed turbines (Maine State Legislature, 2010), but oshore wind
developers are not required by law to provide community benets in the UK (Aitken,
2010). Relevant literature and our case studies point to the importance of collaboraon
among developers, communies, and government agencies to idenfy and provide
community benets rather than only respond to government mandates about benets
(Aitken, 2010; Rudolph et al., 2015).
Early discussions among government authories, developers, and communies are
needed to arrive at acceptable denions and understandings of communies, benets,
impacts, and how they relate to each other (see Figure 2). Communies can be based
on locaon (e.g., a town), interests (e.g. recreaonal boaters), groups who are adversely
impacted (e.g., commercial shermen), organizaons (e.g., an energy cooperave) and/
or other shared characteriscs. Benets can be understood as sharing economic gains
associated with tapping into a public natural resource (i.e., wind), recognion of hosts
(e.g., developer seeks to be a good neighbor, communies receive benets for hosng
substaon infrastructure), increasing local support (e.g., community groups or energy
cooperaves who receive benets commit to supporng wind farm), accounng for
impact (e.g., recognion of local negave impacts), compensaon for agreed upon and
specic losses (e.g., funds to improve habitats for birds at high risk of collision with
turbines). Impacts can be perceived as posive (e.g., provision of jobs and carbon
neutral electricity) and/or negave (e.g., bird mortalies, decreased visual amenies).
Idenfying preferred interacons among communies, benets, and impacts can help
determine eecve community benets (Rudolph et al., 2015).
Establishing locally appropriate community benets involves clearly idenfying their
scale, role, and purpose (Cowell et al., 2011). Otherwise, these community benets
could be seen as a bribe that displaces civic duty (Sandel, 2012; Walker et al., 2014). Co-
creang community benets may reduce the percepon among stakeholders of benets
as bribes. This process can also improve clarity and diminish uncertainty about what will
be provided so developers can discuss them earlier in the planning stages. Rudolph
et al. (2015) recommend that developers and authories negoate with communies
about various benet models during early stages of wind farm planning, ideally before
subming planning applicaons.
Timing: Substanal Public
Engagement Before Site Selecon
Figure 2. A robust approach to developing community benets. This requires reaching a
common understanding of communies, benets, impacts, and their interacons among
developers, communies, and government authories. Italics denote examples. Adapted
from Rudolph et al. (2015).
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 21
Authories Communites
Appropriate Community Benets
To collaboravely develop
Who should
Beneciary communies
can be dened by
• Locaons: town, island
• Interests/pracces: shermen, sailors
• Groups adversely impacted: shermen
• Organizaons: energy cooperaves,
conservaons groups
• Other aributes: demographic
What are the impacts?
• Environmental
• Social
• Economic
How are
impacts perceived?
• Posively
• Negavely
Why & how to
provide benets?
• Share economic gains associated
with using public resource
• Recognize hosts
• Account for impact
• Compensate for specic losses
• Other
22 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Community benets have taken many forms in dierent places. They can be integrated
into various stages of a project, such as the planning, perming, migaon, operaonal,
and decommissioning stages. We add to Rudolph et al.’s (2015) overview of common
oshore wind community benet models and mechanisms:
In Denmark and regions of Germany, community benets are oen based on cooperave
models in which members own the business and all prots aer taxes are given back
to members (Breukers and Wolsink, 2007). In the UK, energy developers annually pay
into a fund proporonal to the megawas (MW) of installed capacity for community
organizaons to spend on local iniaves (Cowell et al., 2011). For more detailed
descripons of dierent types of community benets, see Rudolph et al. (2015).
4.2 Flexible Models for
Custom Tailored Benets
Community funds (most common)
Other and pre-exisng funds
Community ownership
Equal distribuon of revenues
Direct investment and project
funding (e.g., paying for
infrastructure improvements)
Jobs, apprenceships and
Educaonal programs
Electricity discounts
Community benet agreements
Indirect benets from the supply
Indirect benets via tourist facilies
Søren Hermansen of the Samsø Island Energy Academy briefs Maine island leaders on how the
Danish island’s energy plan included cooperavely sited and owned oshore wind turbrines.
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 23
Case Studies
24 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
We derived our key ndings on making mutual learning accessible and providing
community benets from relevant publicaons and three New England island case
studies (see Figure 3). During our literature review, we found a dearth of academic studies
focusing on community engagement and oshore wind in New England beyond the
proposed Cape Wind farm. We see this lack of academic publicaons as an opportunity
for social science research to inform the development of this industry in this region.
Case Studies
Figure 3. Map of Case Study Islands. Wind data and categorizaon from NREL (2015).
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 25
Our case study communies dier from those connected by bridges or on the mainland
largely based of their relave isolaon. We summarize basic island community
characteriscs in Table 1 associated with our three case studies.
Characterisc Descripon Consequences
Small compared to adjacent
mainland communies
Block Island: 1,051
Martha’s Vineyard: 16,535
Monhegan: 69
(U.S. Census, 2010)
Few technical experts
Local leadership posions are
oen part me or volunteer
Economy Strong dependence on shing
and tourism
Highly seasonal
Relavely vulnerable due to
low economic diversicaon
Year-round residents are likely
more available to parcipate
in engagement eorts during
low season while seasonal
residents and visitors are more
likely to engage during the
Energy Costs Can be higher than mainland,
e.g., residenal electric rates on
Monhegan Island are ~$0.70
per kWh and ~$0.15 on the
Strong interest in alternaves
that could reduce energy
costs, parcularly on islands
without a grid connecon
Table 1. Key dierences between New England Island case study sites and mainland
communies relevant to engagement on energy issues. Although the populaon and
economy characteriscs apply to many small towns, we highlight how energy costs on
islands tend to be higher than on the mainland.
Table 1
26 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Block Island, RI Martha’s Vineyard, MA Monhegan Island, ME
Readily Available
& Appropriate
Town hired consultants
to listen, translate and
represent community
Developer reimbursed
town for consultants
Developer priorized
outreach to community
(Island Instute, 2012b)
Vineyard Power Cooperave
hosted interacve oshore
wind map viewer to
inform parcipants about
environmental, human use
and visual impacts
Island Instute developed
peer-reviewed fact sheets to
address the quesons raised
during community meengs
(Island Instute, 2012c)
Project preceded by
RI Ocean Special Area
Management Plan (SAMP)
process, which was
funded and supported by
federal, state and private
enes (Nuers and
Pinto da Silva, 2012)
Engagement with shing
industry connued aer
SAMP completed
Community meengs
from 2009-2012 to
create and adopt
comprehensive energy
plan for Block Island (IEC,
Process to create Martha’s
Vineyard Island Plan and
energy coop entailed
substanal learning and
sharing of informaon and
Coop used online wind map
viewer to solicit resident
preferences for farm
Informaon Exchange
site visits enabled diverse
stakeholders to meet
repeatedly and exchange
informaon and experiences
Mapping Working Waters
project engaged shermen
to share local knowledge
and provided opportunity
for them to learn about wind
farms (Island Instute, 2009)
University of Maine
collected informaon on
turbines’ proximity to shing
areas, created and shared
visualizaons, and conducted
tourism impacts study
Timing of
SAMP process made
informaon about state
waters readily available
before OSW farm was
considered (Nuers and
Pinto da Silva, 2012)
Having parcipated in
SAMP process, oshore
wind was not a new topic
to local leaders when
project was proposed
Formal community
engagement from
2006 to 2010 to create
comprehensive, proacve
Island Plan on various
sustainability issues
Recruited energy coop
members over mulple years
starng in 2009
Over a year of engagement
before state and federal sites
Timing of engagement
around state waters test site
acvies created challenges
from which the community
organized Monhegan Energy
Task Force emerged
Presentaons about OSW
in both winter and summer
to reach year-round and
seasonal residents
Mindful of
Developer hired local
liaison to lead outreach
Cooperave founders
and members are island
Leaders in Monhegan Energy
Task Force assumed role of
on Bridging
Consultants helped
to bridge town and
Partnership between local
cooperave and developer
provides a bridge to the
Island Instute served
as bridging organizaon
between developer and
Create Accessible Learning Opportunies
Case Studies
Table 2
Table 2. Summary of good pracces highlighted in this report related to community
engagement in three proposed oshore wind farm sites.
For more detail, see case study descripons.
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 27
As summarized in Table 2, we provide an overview of our case studies demonstrang the lessons that the Island
Instute has learned pernent to community engagement adjacent to proposed oshore wind farms. At the me
of wring, each case study is at a dierent stage of project development. Construcon began on the Block Island
Wind Farm in the summer of 2015. The Vineyard Power Cooperave ocially partnered with a European wind
farm company in January of 2015 and won a lease from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to
develop their project in federal waters South of Martha’s Vineyard. The University of Maine was not successful
in its 2014 bid for funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a deep-water oang oshore
wind test site near Monhegan Island, but they have since received two addional DOE grants to connue
rening the design of their turbines.
Block Island, RI Martha’s Vineyard, MA Monhegan Island, ME
Provides mainland grid
Reducon in electricity
Ends need to import 1 mill
gallons of diesel annually
(Economist, 2015)
On-island infrastructure
Fiber opc strands in
cable bundle provided to
increase internet speed
Local jobs provided:
mariners and shermen
hired to provide security
during construcon
Embedded in Vineyard
Power Cooperave’s
mission and organizaonal
Coop members steer sing
decision (VPCOMW, 2015)
Community Benet
Agreement enabled
developer to get discount
on lease of ocean space
Island shermen were hired
to assist with environmental
monitoring and site
Preliminary discussions
have included possibility of
mainland grid connecon,
reduced electricity rates,
improved broadband internet
Provide Community Benets
Case Studies (Cont.)
28 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Construcon began on Deepwater Wind’s 30 MW, ve-turbine wind farm three miles
o the coast of Block Island in the summer of 2015 aer a relavely smooth project
development process compared to the nearby Cape Wind proposal. This can be aributed
to many factors, including the groundwork established by the Rhode Island Coastal
Resources Management Council’s Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan
(SAMP) shortly before the project was proposed (Nuers and Pinto da Silva, 2012).
Also, the relavely small scale of the Block Island project likely contributed to its ability
to move forward rst. The Block Island Wind Farm consists of ve turbines compared
to Cape Wind’s 130, the ancipated economic impact on electric rates is smaller than
Cape Wind’s, and it is a mul-million dollar project while Cape Wind is a mul-billion
dollar project (Smith et al., 2015). The Block Island Wind Farm also beneted from the
state’s long-term contracng legislaon, as well as minimal federal regulatory review
due to the project’s locaon within state waters. While not without its opponents
(McGlinchey, 2013), this project has been met with support from island leaders, a local
Indian tribe, environmentalists, and shermen, in part due to well-dened benets
(Economist, 2015).
We argue that ming also played a key role in the success of this project. Creang and
disseminang the SAMP before the wind farm was proposed meant that informaon
about state waters was already readily available and accessible and had been discussed
with key stakeholders (Nuers and Pinto da Silva, 2012), including the town council
of New Shoreham on Block Island, which acvely followed and contributed to the
SAMP process. When Deepwater Wind proposed a wind farm in Rhode Island’s state
waters, the New Shoreham Town Council was tasked with reviewing the proposal and
represenng the community’s interests and concerns. The town council recognized that
it did not have energy experts on sta to review the associated technical documents
within the structure of the regulatory process. To prevent a defensive David versus
Goliath mentality (i.e., the small island community standing up to a large, well-nanced
development corporaon), Deepwater Wind and the town council discussed the town’s
need for addional technical capacity to make the proposed project more accessible
and understandable to residents. The town selected and hired consultants to represent
their interests, and Deepwater agreed to reimburse the town for the expense of these
consultants (Island Instute, 2012c).
These consultants served the funcon of a bridging organizaon between the
developers and the island community members. The consultants translated pernent
technical details and locally relevant informaon to the town council. They shared
informaon with the broader community, elded quesons at community meengs,
listened to community concerns, and translated these concerns into comments during
the formal regulatory processes. The experse of the consultants provided the town
council with greater condence that community concerns would be beer integrated
into the wind farm planning processes.
5.1 The Ocean State’s Oshore Wind Farm
Pioneers, Block Island, RI
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 29
‘‘ The community [of Block Island] beneted greatly from the sharing
of informaon via the Ocean SAMP process, and by Deepwater
Wind's commitment to pung in place a trusted liaison as conduit
for informaon... By employing [the liaison] and locang his oce on
Block Island, Deepwater Wind was able to provide "up to the minute"
informaon and build relaonships of trust. This was crical to success.
By negoang with the developer a number of key community benet
items, the Town of New Shoreham became a partner (albeit small) in the
project, not just a passive venue to be ulized/exploited… We became
educated, conversant, increasingly condent, and responsible cizens as
we faced each phase of the process… We learned that even a small island
community can lead by example… There is no end to what needs to be
learned and stewarded.
—Kimberley Gae, long-me New Shoreham Town Council Member
We see locally-relevant community benets playing an important role in the success of
this project. Once the farm is built, Block Island will for the rst me be connected to
the mainland grid. Deepwater Wind ancipates that this wind farm and the submarine
transmission cables connecng the turbines and the island to the mainland electricity
grid will lower the island’s electricity costs by 40% (Economist, 2015), which was a driver
in garnering local support for the project.¹ The project developer, Deepwater Wind,
ancipates that this wind farm and the submarine transmission cables connecng the
turbines and the island to the mainland electricity grid will reduce the island’s electricity
costs (Smith et al., 2015). As a result, once the wind farm is completed, Block Island will
no longer need to transport and burn approximately one million gallons of diesel fuel
to power the island’s generators (Economist, 2015). The town negoated to have ber
opc strands included in the electricity cable bundle that were provided for the town.
Faster internet will benet residents and businesses that have struggled with the slower
microwave-based broadband, parcularly during the busy summer months. Deepwater
Wind and New Shoreham have also developed a formal Community Benet Agreement
(CBA) in which the wind farm company will pay for improvements to town infrastructure
where the cable comes ashore. Further, the project is expected to generate three
hundred jobs during the construcon phase, including opportunies for local mariners
and shermen (Smith et al., 2015).
¹ This ancipated cost reducon esmate did not account for the 2014 dip in oil prices.
The oshore wind farm, however, is ancipated to reduce the volality of electricity prices
on the island. In the long term, natural gas and oil prices are expected to rise (EIA, 2015).
30 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Vineyard Power was an outgrowth of Martha’s Vineyard’s Island Plan, a sustainability
strategy that the Martha’s Vineyard Commission completed based on input from
thousands of island residents in 2009 to “create the future we want rather than sele
for the future we get” (MVC, 2009, p. 1). Eight years aer the controversial Cape
Wind oshore wind project had been proposed, the plan included a recommendaon
to create a community-owned renewable energy cooperave so islanders could have
more autonomy over their energy producon and beer ensure community benets
associated with renewable energy development. To date, Vineyard Power has developed
ve commercial-scale solar photovoltaic projects on Martha’s Vineyard and connues
to look to mulple renewable energy technologies going forward, including oshore
In 2009, Vineyard Power began recruing members. The price of a membership in
the coop escalates over me, beginning at $50 and currently at $200 in 2015. People
joined for social benets such as inclusion in the decision making processes in an island-
owned, acon-oriented group to create a more sustainable energy future for their
community, and nancial rewards like ownership and control of local renewable energy
projects and stabilized electricity prices once a large-scale renewable energy project
is developed (Nevin, 2010). The cooperave’s community benets are embedded
in the cooperave’s mission: “to produce electricity from local, renewable resources
while advocang for and keeping the benets within our island community” and the
organizaon’s vision “to be Martha's Vineyard's community-owned energy cooperave”
(VPC, 2015).
Vineyard Power members have made community benets a central theme in the
development of this oshore wind farm. Lack of perceived community benets, arguably,
played a more minor role in Cape Wind, an earlier Massachuses-based oshore wind
farm proposal that has stalled due to lawsuits, regulatory issues, and problems with its
Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Learning from the Cape Wind experience, Vineyard
Power inially developed a wind farm ownership model inuenced by the project
design and nancing structure of the community-owned Fox Islands Wind Project on
Vinalhaven Island, Maine where the size of the project was linked to the amount of
power consumed by the island (personal communicaon Peckar, 2015). The complexity,
scale, and scope of the currently proposed oshore wind farm, which could be as large
as two thousand MW (Smith et al., 2015), vastly exceeds the three-turbine Fox Islands
Wind Project, yet the focus on local control and benet remains.
In January, 2015, BOEM auconed the rights to lease oshore wind in areas in federal
waters south of Martha’s Vineyard. Oshore MW received a 10% discount on their bid
price because they had executed a Community Benet Agreement with Vineyard Power.
The CBA outlined opportunies to invesgate local benets to the island including job
creaon, an operaons and maintenance facility, and local equity ownership in the
project (VPCOMW, 2015).
A Cooperave Approach to Oshore Wind
on Martha’s Vineyard, MA
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 31
While oshore wind has followed a tumultuous path in Maine, its history provides us with
important insights regarding mutual learning, ming, and accessibility of informaon. In
2009, Maine set ambious goals to become a naonal leader in ocean energy (MCP,
2009) and created opportunies for development of oshore wind and dal energy
demonstraon projects in both state and federal waters (MPUC, 2010). In each of these
jurisdicons, discussions of oshore wind had implicaons for the island of Monhegan,
a remote community twelve miles out to sea with a year-round populaon of about
sixty and some of the highest energy costs in the naon at ~$0.70 kWh vs. ~$0.15 kWh
for mainland residenal electricity in Maine (MPUC, 2015).
Confronng Deep Water Challenges on
Monhegan Island, ME
In earlier stages of the project’s development, the cooperave hosted an interacve
oshore wind map viewer on its website to not only inform but also solicit preferences
from coop members and other engaged island residents to nd a suitable locaon for
the wind farm. This website provided readily available and appropriate informaon
while encouraging parcipaon in sharing local values related to proposed locaons.
The website provided informaon about visual, ecological, and human use impacts
based on various proposed sites, including data collected from local sources such as
island shermen. The cooperave also hosted a series of community meengs to share
wind farm visualizaons and solicit feedback (Studds, 2010).
‘‘ Vineyard Power has always advocated for an open, community-based
approach in the development of renewable energy projects. We have
been an extremely acve parcipant throughout the BOEM oshore
wind leasing process and provide updates and informaon to local
municipalies, businesses, and residents of our island to ensure our
community and stakeholders remain engaged. We also believe that
any oshore wind farm development in our surrounding waters should
provide local benets. We took control of our energy future and decided
to be an acve parcipant in the process. Through years of outreach
with our members, local legislators, and the local municipalies, BOEM
recognized the naon’s rst Community Benet Agreement between
our organizaon and Oshore MW. Through this CBA, we will ensure
that our island community’s local economy will remain strong through
local ownership and job creaon.
— Richard Andre, President of Vineyard Power
32 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
In state waters, Maine made posive inial steps to engage stakeholders in its strategy
to expedite the development of the industry by designang three research and
demonstraon “test” sites within state waters. Representaves of Governor Baldacci’s
Ocean Energy Task Force worked with the Maine Coastal Program (MCP) within the
Maine State Planning oce to host a series of public meengs and “kitchen table”
(i.e., small and informal) discussions along the Maine coast where sites were being
considered. They incorporated scienc data and local knowledge into their assessment
process by making mutual learning accessible. For example, when MCP and other state
agency sta traveled to Monhegan to gather feedback on the potenal to create a site
two miles from the island, they met with shermen in a local sh house. They asked
shermen to rank their shing acvity eort around the island in order to idenfy a site
of least impact.
Eorts to site oshore wind in nearby federal waters underscored the importance of
ming and availability of informaon. On September 1, 2010, the Maine Public Ulies
Commission (PUC) began a sixteen-month process during which they solicited and
reviewed bids for and public comments on a long-term power purchase agreement.
This extended period of me provided an opportunity to engage stakeholders prior to
the announcement of a developer and the locaon of a site. During this me, the Island
Instute worked as a bridging organizaon to facilitate mutual learning through the
Oshore Wind Energy Informaon Exchange, an outreach and educaon iniave to
inform and engage coastal and marine stakeholders, developers, and decision-makers
on the potenal for oshore wind energy development in the Gulf of Maine. The
iniave included deliberave learning experiences such as exchange trips to shing
communies as well as a wind farm, the human use mapping project Mapping Working
Waters (see Appendix A), informaon sessions at the annual Fishermen’s Forum in
Maine (Island Instute, 2009), and readily available and understandable fact sheets
(Island Instute, 2012c). These eorts provided coastal stakeholders and industry
representaves with a baseline understanding of community priories as well as the
oshore wind industry, while creang an opportunity for stakeholders to meet each
other informally and build relaonships.
‘‘ As a lobstermen from Maine who was part of informaon exchanges, I took
the me to learn more about oshore wind, the oshore wind industry,
and share what I know with people involved in the wind industry. I was
able to substanvely engage with Statoil in detailed conversaons about
the potenal impacts and concerns surrounding their proposed project.
— Dave Cousens, President of the Maine Lobstermen's Associaon
A sherman shows oshore wind developers where he shes
using a map produced by the Island Instute as part of its
Mapping Working Waters program.
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 33
In January 2013, Maine PUC announced its selecon of an unsolicited proposal from
Statoil – a mulnaonal corporaon specializing in oshore energy infrastructure – for
tesng oang turbine technology in federal waters in the state’s Midcoast region. By
this me, marine users and other stakeholders in the area had already parcipated in
educaon and informaon exchange opportunies, preparing them to more proacvely
and construcvely engage in discussions with the developer and decision-makers (Island
Instute, 2015).
Later in 2013, the University of Maine entered a federal funding compeon with a
new scope of acvies at the Monhegan test site. Subsequently, the Maine Legislature
directed the PUC to reopen the bidding process so that the University of Maine could
submit a proposal on an accelerated meline, and Statoil withdrew its proposal for a
project in federal waters. While these developments had statewide implicaons, this
impacted Monhegan by signicantly liming the meframe in which the community
could learn about the change in scope from small-scale portable to large-scale, semi-
permanent turbines. The PUC opportunity, which prompted many islanders to learn of
the change in project scale, was announced during the summer, which is the island’s
busiest me of year.
The accelerated meline and need for informaon inially strained relaons between
the island community and Maine Aqua Ventus (MAV), the University-led consorum
developing the larger project, but both pares quickly commied to improve
communicaons. The rst step was to clarify points of contact and expectaons for
communicaons so that MAV could be certain that project updates were being shared
widely. Island leaders created the Monhegan Energy Task Force (METF) as a way to
priorize informaon that the community needed and facilitate discussion of community
benets associated with the proposed oshore wind project. METF and MAV engaged
in weekly phone calls to enhance the ow of informaon and worked to develop an
expectaons document to ensure mely project communicaons. During this me,
both pares looked to Block Island for examples of how informaon was shared and
community benets arranged. MAV also began to host semi-regular open house
sessions on the island during which residents and visitors could have more extended
discussions about aspects of the project. In late 2015, MAV received addional federal
funding ($3.7 mill) to connue rening their oang turbine designs (Turkel, 2015).
Some residents sll have concerns about the project but the developer and community
have laid a more solid foundaon upon which future communicaon can take place.
‘‘ As we try to keep our very small community running, it is easy to get
lost in the “doing” and not the “talking.While dealing with Maine Aqua
Ventus, the greatest challenge we faced was how to quickly get correct
informaon to the community. The key for Monhegan Energy Task Force
was to develop a plan for sharing informaon and for making research
resources accessible. We co-authored a communicaons MOU with
Maine Aqua Ventus, developed a website, sent mailings, and created an
email list of stakeholders making it possible to “tell” while we were
doing. Open communicaon between the community and Monhegan
Energy Task Force paired with open communicaon between Monhegan
Energy Task Force and Maine Aqua Ventus helped all pares keep up to
date and kept misinformaon to a minimum.
— Marian Chio, Co-chair, Monhegan Energy Task Force
34 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 35
Based on our community engagement and community benet literature review and our
three oshore wind farm case studies in New England, we make the following three
Make mutual learning accessible
Develop community engagement strategies that solicit and incorporate local
knowledge as well as the best available science. Mutual learning can include
informaon exchanges, iterave community meengs, interacve web-based
portals, and “kitchen table” meengs. In parcular, inter-island exchanges of
experience have contributed to island residents sharing their experiences and
experse relevant to oshore wind farm development processes. As the industry
connues to develop, relaonship building and informaon sharing should be
encouraged not only within projects but across them, enabling host communies,
developers, and other stakeholders to share what works and strengthen the
community engagement process throughout the industry. Government authories
and bridging organizaons should engage local stakeholders near sites suitable for
this technology before parcular oshore wind projects are proposed.
Custom tailor community benets
Community benet models and mechanisms are diverse. They are most eecve
when developers, communies, and government authories work collaboravely
to come to a shared understanding of the denions of community, benets and
impacts as well as how these components relate to each other. This process of
claricaon can help determine appropriate community benets.
Monhegan Island residents brief state leaders on local energy challenges, including the high
cost of diesel-generated power.
36 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Oshore wind farms have the potenal to play an important role in shiing to low-carbon
energy systems. The ways in which we approach, manage, and respond to inevitable
controversy over these technologies impacts the pace and ecacy of addressing climate
change and transing to low carbon energy sources (Roberts et al., 2013). As with any
infrastructure decision, it is essenal that oshore wind developers and decision makers
engage local communies and address concerns about impacts and benets of such
projects. Based on what we have learned from the experiences of Block Island, Martha’s
Vineyard, and Monhegan Island, building a foundaon of both knowledge and trust is
crucial for the success of an oshore wind farm. Making mutual learning accessible and
providing clear community benets can help ensure that 1) the decision-making processes
around these projects are inclusive, eecve, and perceived as fair; 2) local, scienc and
polical knowledge is considered; and 3) that projects deemed worthy of moving ahead are
properly sited.
Invest in social science research and communicaon on
oshore wind farms
To date, energy research has downplayed the role of choice and social dimensions
of energy systems (Sovacool, 2014). Applying more human-centered research
methods (e.g., surveys, interviews, focus groups) can reveal underlying factors
movang or hindering adopon of oshore wind infrastructure, and why atudes
and behaviors towards technology change. Pre and post surveys and other research
methods could help us understand energy-related atude and behavior changes
over me and ancipate future changes. Extensive social science literatures provide
insights on stakeholder engagement with regards to proposed infrastructure
development, but relavely few academic studies have focused on community
engagement with the nascent oshore wind industry in the US. More extensive and
longer-term research into the New England case studies and concepts highlighted
in this report may lead to addional insights. Concurrently, we recommend that
greater eort should be invested to communicate social science outputs in order
to enhance their accessibility to communies, developers, and other oshore wind
stakeholders. A wide range of acvies and events – possibly including trainings,
toolkits, experienal learning, webinars, and conference presentaons – would
help to ensure that robust research is at the ngerps of those acvely involved in
shaping the future of the industry.
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 37
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Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 43
Appendix A.
Example Output
from Mapping
Working Waters
Mapping Working Waters is an iniave that
seeks to ll crical gaps in spaal informaon
on human uses of the marine environment
along the Maine coast, parcularly
commercial shing, that the Island Instute
launched in 2009. The project documents
how island and coastal communies use and
depend on marine areas with the intenon
of helping them to explain their relaonship
with the ocean decision and policy-makers.
This project expands beyond the near-shore
environment to include the spaal extent
of some communies’ commercial shing
acvies in the oshore environment, 10 to
40 miles o the coast of Maine. Documenng
this informaon enabled shermen to beer
interact with oshore wind developers
and to connect their individual story to the
broader context of the shing industry in
Maine. The project has also helped inform
how sheries where characterized in the
development of an ocean plan by the New
England Regional Planning Body.
Mapping Working Waters has not only
provided the opportunity for shermen
to share informaon on their marine uses
but also for Island Instute sta to provide
informaon on oshore wind technology,
policy, project development, and potenal
interacons with their shing acvies. As
such, the aached map overlays areas of
interest for renewable energy development
with lobster shing acvity, a nearly one
billion dollar industry in Maine. This and other
maps created during this project provide a
starng point for conversaons between
shermen and oshore wind developers
about where shing acvity takes place,
the trends that drive it, and who might be
For more informaon on this project,
including other maps, please see: hp://
386 Main Street, Rockland, ME 04841
... Currently in the United States, research on community benefits and offshore wind farms is limited and has been concentrated on a few projects in the New England area (Klain et al., 2015). Our study expands the literature to the southeastern United States by investigating a community near a proposed offshore wind farm off the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which would be the first offshore wind farm in waters off the southeastern United States. ...
... In the United States, community benefits from wind energy developments may be voluntary or required by law (Klain et al., 2015). For example, the state of Maine passed legislation requiring onshore wind developers to pay host communities based on the number of installed turbines (Klain et al., 2015;Maine State Legislature, 2010). ...
... In the United States, community benefits from wind energy developments may be voluntary or required by law (Klain et al., 2015). For example, the state of Maine passed legislation requiring onshore wind developers to pay host communities based on the number of installed turbines (Klain et al., 2015;Maine State Legislature, 2010). In contrast, to date, there are no across-the-board legal obligations to provide community benefits in offshore wind development. ...
As offshore wind energy development gains a foothold, the possibility of conflict between local communities and developers may become increasingly common. Coastal communities within the viewshed or hosting transmission cables may fear several impacts but few benefits. Community benefits, provided through the wind farm developer, may help garner local support in communities in close proximity to a wind farm project. This research focused on the first offshore wind energy lease off the coastline of North Carolina, U.S. This study utilized semi-structured interviews to understand how key informants think of a proposed offshore wind farm in the context of community benefits. Findings reveal that key informants are skeptical of direct benefits like local employment, though optimistic about indirect, regional benefits, like economic development. The majority of key informants were interested in a community fund that would be administered by the local government or a trusted local organization. This study provides an initial assessment of perspectives on community benefits in the context of offshore wind development and makes recommendations on how to incorporate community benefits into the offshore wind development process. Furthermore, we emphasize the importance of additional research into this topic.
... SLO is more than passive acceptance of a development; it is a term developed by the mining industry to refer to active fostering of the growth of host community trust in a development organisation, and of the community's perception of an activity as legitimate, leading to its consent to the activity [32,33]. Its application to fish-farming [34,35] is new, and, with the exception of [36] (which does not use the SLO label), its use with MRE appears scant. Thus, research was needed to explore conditions for the development of SLO for MOI and to provide commercial developers with guidance in order to reduce investment risk from the societal challenges to MOI. ...
There is increasing competition for space in coastal seas as new industrial sectors, such as Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) and Aquaculture, seek to expand. Multi-Use - involving sharing of space and, in some cases, facilities - can lessen competition and reduce industry costs if societal and economic challenges can be overcome. An example societal challenge is that of gaining Social Licence to Operate (SLO) for 'Multifunctional Offshore Installations' (MOI) combining fish farming with MRE (from wind and waves) in a large floating structure. This article reports a mixed-methods study at two potential MOI deployment sites in 2019, aiming to understand the local context for SLO. A survey was carried out in Reggio Calabria, Italy, with 108 respondents, and in Islay, Scotland, with 127 respondents. Questions concerned opinions about MRE and fish-farming, separately and combined. A facilitated workshop in Reggio Calabria provided additional qualitative data. Most findings were the same in both places. Respondents thought better of MRE than fish-farming but remained moderately likely to eat fish produced in MOI. The majority distrusted regulators to control environmental impacts of the technology. The main differences were that respondents in Reggio Calabria anticipated local benefits from MOI industrial activity, and were more likely to accept development by non-local owners than were people on Islay. We interpreted the findings in a conceptual framework that combines theory for SLO with theory for Action Situations, hypothesising that a community’s diffuse and perhaps heterogenous opinions might ‘crystalise’ around an issue during an Action Situation. The hypothesis will be tested when a prototype MOI is deployed near Reggio Calabria in 2021.
Objective This article investigates how different types of policies (morality based and highly technical) inform early‐stage policy learning and diffusion processes. Methods Using process tracing, interviews, archival research, and cross‐case analysis, this article describes and compares the emergence of medical marijuana and offshore wind energy policies in U.S. states. Using iterative data collection and analysis, the study identifies which factors proffered by the literature affect the policy learning and diffusion process. Results Despite representing different types of policies, there were significant similarities across both cases: State actors drew lessons from Europe; policy lessons from Europe were weaponized by national political interests in an effort to stymy state‐level diffusion; and, as policies diffused to other states, organized opposition curtailed. Conclusion This study demonstrates how the stage of diffusion can be as determinative of the policy learning context as the type of policy, and highlights how the diffusion and typology literatures can inform each other.
Full-text available
Given the likelihood of the development of offshore wind farms in Maine and the increasingly politicized nature of discussions about wind power in general, there is a need for more systematic information on Mainers’ opinions about offshore wind power. In this article, James Acheson provides information on the range of public opinion about offshore wind power based on a survey of fishermen, tourism-related business owners and coastal property owners in Midcoast Maine. He assesses the accuracy of some public concerns and discusses the broader policy issues raised about offshore wind development.
Full-text available
The empirical evidence in the papers in this special issue identifies pervasive and difficult cross-scale and cross-level interactions in managing the environment. The complexity of these interactions and the fact that both scholarship and management have only recently begun to address this complexity have provided the impetus for us to present one synthesis of scale and cross-scale dynamics. In doing so, we draw from multiple cases, multiple disciplines, and multiple perspectives. In this synthesis paper, and in the accompanying cases, we hypothesize that the dynamics of cross-scale and cross-level interactions are affected by the interplay between institutions at multiple levels and scales. We suggest that the advent of co-management structures and conscious boundary management that includes knowledge co-production, mediation, translation, and negotiation across scale-related boundaries may facilitate solutions to complex problems that decision makers have historically been unable to solve.
Full-text available
Offshore wind turbines have been successfully deployed in Europe since 1991, providing thousands of megawatts of clean energy for multiple nations. Ten years ago, it seemed that the United States would follow suit: The US Energy Policy Act of 2005 directed the Department of the Interior (DOI) to establish an offshore leasing regime in federal waters (generally oceanic waters 3–200 nautical miles from the coast). It appeared to be a crucial step in opening the door to the country’s vast offshore wind resource: turbine installations in the Mid-Atlantic Bight alone could power all United States electricity, automobile transport, and building heat needs (1).
Full-text available
Community-based wind energy projects, with their small-scale, yet sizeable presence, provide a valuable opportunity to understand how individuals make sense of changes to their communities and to the surrounding landscape. Here, we examine the results of a 2013 mail survey of individuals residing in the vicinity of a 2 MW wind turbine that is located on the edge of the historic coastal town of Lewes, Delaware in the United States, and adjacent to Delaware Bay and the Great Marsh Preserve. The wind turbine, which was constructed in 2010, primarily serves the University of Delaware's coastal campus, and to a lesser extent the town of Lewes. Seventy-eight percent hold positive or very positive attitudes toward the wind turbine, with only 10% having negative or very negative attitudes, and 82% like the look of the wind turbine. Socially constructed aspects find more resonance than physical ones (e.g., attractiveness) in explaining this latter finding, with the wind turbine being reflective of a transformation to a clean energy future for those residents who like the way the turbine looks. On the other hand, those objecting to its look, find the turbine does not fit the landscape. Policy implications of these findings and others related to wind turbine sound are considered, and recommendations for better understanding of proposed developments from the vantage point of the affected communities, including how a community views itself and its surrounding landscape, are made.
This book outlines the creative process of making environmental management decisions using the approach called Structured Decision Making. It is a short introductory guide to this popular form of decision making and is aimed at environmental managers and scientists. This is a distinctly pragmatic label given to ways for helping individuals and groups think through tough multidimensional choices characterized by uncertain science, diverse stakeholders, and difficult tradeoffs. This is the everyday reality of environmental management, yet many important decisions currently are made on an ad hoc basis that lacks a solid value-based foundation, ignores key information, and results in selection of an inferior alternative. Making progress - in a way that is rigorous, inclusive, defensible and transparent - requires combining analytical methods drawn from the decision sciences and applied ecology with deliberative insights from cognitive psychology, facilitation and negotiation. The authors review key methods and discuss case-study examples based in their experiences in communities, boardrooms, and stakeholder meetings. The goal of this book is to lay out a compelling guide that will change how you think about making environmental decisions. © 2012 by R. Gregory, L. Failing, M. Harstone, G. Long, T. McDaniels, and D. Ohlson. All rights reserved.
Despite near- to medium-term cost barriers, a future U.S. electricity system in which wind plays a major role is technically feasible; could result in enduring benefits globally, nationally, and locally; and could result in consumer and system cost savings in the long term.
Marine renewable energy (MRE), though a relative newcomer to the ocean and coastal commons, has become a significant driver of marine spatial planning in the US, posing particular challenges to commercial fisheries and fishing communities. State and federal agencies with primary oversight for MRE development have focused on the identification of places where MRE might proceed unhindered by other uses, most notably coastal fisheries. These agencies and MRE developers have focused on potential space-use conflict and standard mitigation measures for loss of access to that space. However, discussions with fishery participants and other community members, as well as observations of processes on the US West and East Coasts, reveal a complex, multi-faceted social–ecological system not easily parsed out among users, nor amenable to classic mitigation formulas. Recent ethnographic research on potential space-use conflicts and mitigation for MRE demonstrates that marine space use is dynamic and multi-dimensional, with important linkages among fisheries, communities and other interests. Although experiences vary within and across regions and fishing communities, this research illustrates the weak position of fishing communities in marine spatial planning in the context of MRE development. This paper considers the implications of MRE for US East and West Coast fisheries and fishing communities situated within the larger context of neoliberalism and commodification of the ocean commons.
Offshore wind energy development (OWED) is being pursued as a critical component in achieving a low-carbon energy economy. While the potential generating capacity is high, the cumulative effects of expansion of OWED on wildlife remain unclear. Since environmental regulations in many countries require analysis of the cumulative adverse effects (CAE) during permitting processes, this paper reviews the state of knowledge on CAE of OWED on wildlife. We synthesize ecological research on the effects of OWED on wildlife; delineate a framework for determining the scope of CAE assessments; describe approaches to avoiding, minimizing and compensating for CAE; and discuss critical uncertainties.
Technical Report
This project evaluates existing practices in community benefit models for offshore renewables. We identify and evaluate national and international case studies of different community benefit models, and provide evidence of how community benefits are delivered and distributed. In particular we consider the key relationship between how communities are identified, how impact is perceived, and how benefits may therefore be apportioned. We then assess the different mechanisms and schemes of benefit-sharing to identify good practice and key points of learning for Scottish policy and planning.