Engaging Communies in
Case Studies and Lessons Learned from New England Islands
2 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Execuve Summary 3
1. Introducon 4
1.1. Lessons Learned for Engaging New England Coastal Communies 6
2. Background on Oshore Wind Projects 8
2.1. Concerns Associated with Oshore Wind Projects 10
2.2. Why Does Stakeholder Engagement Maer? 12
3. Lesson 1: Make Mutual Learning Accessible 13
3.1. Readily Available and Appropriate Informaon 14
3.2. Deliberave Learning 15
3.3. Mindful of the Messenger 15
3.4. Bridging Organizaons 16
3.5. Timing: Substanal Public Engagement Before Sites are Selected 16
4. Lesson 2: Provide Community Benets 18
4.1. Deliberaon to Determine Community Benets 20
4.2. Flexible Models for Custom Tailored Benets 22
5. Case Studies 23
5.1. The Ocean State’s Oshore Wind Farm Pioneers, Block Island, RI 28
5.2. A Cooperave Approach to Oshore Wind on Martha’s Vineyard, MA 30
5.3. Confronng Deep Water Challenges on Monhegan Island, ME 31
6. Recommendaons 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 oshore wind and ocean planning sectors for their valuable feedback on the report. Special
thanks also go to Island Instute sta (Brooks Winner, Rebecca Clark, Heather Deese, and Eric
Wayne) for their contribuons 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 Brish Columbia’s Instute
for Resources, Environment and Sustainability and BRITE Internship Program; the Gordon and
Bey Moore Foundaon; and private foundaons. We would also like to acknowledge previous
support from mulple private and public enes that enabled the programming and engagement
eorts described in this report.
Institute for Resources,
Environment & Sustainability
University of British Columbia
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 3
In an eort to diversify sources of energy, reduce carbon emissions, and meet growing
demands for electricity, dozens of oshore wind farm sites are currently under
consideraon in the U.S. The Island Instute, a nonprot community development
organizaon based in Rockland, Maine, advocates for meaningful public engagement
during decision-making processes, including those involving island communies and
oshore wind. This organizaon engages local stakeholders, wind farm developers,
sciensts, engineers, state and federal agency decision-makers and others to learn from
each other and carefully consider the trade-os involved in developing an oshore wind
We highlight key insights on designing good stakeholder engagement processes in which
local community members can help shape the oshore wind development process. This
report is based on both the Island Instute’s work with coastal and island communies
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 informaon (e.g., fact sheets and interacve web portals that use language
for a public audience), designing deliberave learning opportunies (e.g., iterave
stakeholder meengs, inter-community exchanges), ming stakeholder engagement a
year or more before site selecon, and enlisng bridging organizaons to act as liaisons
between communies and developers. We also highlight the need for collaboravely
developed community benets as part of oshore wind farm development. Dening
appropriate community benets requires that developers, government authories, and
communies reach a common understanding of who the recipient communies should
be, what kind of benets are suitable, what the impacts are, and how communies,
benets 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 oshore wind project in the U.S.; 2) a proposed oshore
wind farm near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachuses that is currently moving through
regulatory processes; and 3) a proposed oshore wind project near Monhegan, Maine
where developers are focusing on rening their oang turbine prototype.
Our ndings are not a comprehensive guide for engaging communies impacted by
potenal wind farms in order to guarantee community consent. Instead, we seek to
improve the decision process and the quality of the interacons between communies
and project developers in the hopes of creang beer outcomes. We strive to explain
the lessons we learned in praccal ways using case studies to help praconers bring
insight from decision theory into pracce. We seek to share these lessons to improve
decision-making processes associated with novel uses of the ocean, parcularly for
generang renewable energy.
On the cover: Sited through a collaborave process and extensive local engagement, the ten
oshore wind turbines surrounding Samsø Island, Denmark provided benet in the form of
investment opportunies for the municipality, island farmers, and private corporaons.
4 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 5
For millennia, wind has propelled sailboats for selement and trade across the world. In
the last century, fossil fuels replaced our economic reliance on oshore winds. Today we
are harnessing them once again, this me to generate renewable electricity. The total
installed capacity of oshore 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 consideraon in Europe,
North America, and Asia (Smith et al., 2015).
Careful community engagement is needed when considering oshore wind farms and
other new ocean technologies in order to achieve mulple environmental and economic
objecves in our increasingly crowded oceans. We write from the perspecve of the
Island Instute, a non-prot community development organizaon that contributes
to such community engagement eorts. The Island Instute works to sustain Maine’s
island and remote coastal communies, and exchanges ideas and experiences to further
the sustainability of communies in Maine and elsewhere. This mission is accomplished
by working closely with communies, developers, and decision makers to support
eecve stakeholder engagement and outreach processes related to oshore wind and
other coastal issues. Our work aims to ensure that local communies in close proximity
to renewable energy developments derive benets from these projects and harmful
impacts are minimized.
Some island communies in the U.S. have found themselves at the forefront of oshore
wind debates due to their locaons near proposed wind farm sites, as well as economic
and cultural connecons to adjacent ocean spaces (e.g., reliance on shing, sense of
place reinforced by aesthec views). Due to their proximity to the rst oshore wind
projects in North America, New England island residents are likely to be among the
rst posively and/or negavely impacted by this technology. Island community
members may inuence the future of this industry by obstrucng (e.g., ling lawsuits),
accommodang, or championing this new use of ocean space.
Renewable energy infrastructure is becoming increasingly common in and near where
people live. Electricity producon from non-hydro electric renewable energy sources is
expected to increase by 25% from 2013 to 2018 (EIA, 2015). In 2015, the U.S. commied
to increasing non-hydroelectric renewable energy generaon to 20% of the U.S. total
by 2030. This includes a projected 22,000 MW of oshore wind, which could power
4.5 million homes (DOE, 2015; OPS, 2015). Given that construcon began in 2015 on
the rst U.S. oshore wind farm, and others are currently under consideraon, we are
movated to reect 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 communies to
demonstrate key lessons about stakeholder engagement in oshore wind: Block Island,
RI, where the construcon of North America’s rst oshore wind farm is underway,
as well as Martha’s Vineyard, MA, and Monhegan, ME, where proposed oshore wind
projects have yet to reach their nal design, nancing, or construcon phases. We share
these stories not in an aempt to provide a manual for engaging communies adjacent
to potenal oshore 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
interacons among people with dierent objecves in the hopes of creang more
equitable and acceptable outcomes. It is our hope that these insights will inform the
project developers, communies, 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-os involved in developing an
oshore wind farm.
6 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
We highlight two overarching insights based on the Island Instute’s direct and peripheral
involvement with stakeholder engagement related to oshore wind proposals and
relevant literature. First, we recommend making mutual learning accessible, including
values and facts. Values can reect community priories, place aachments, and the
signicance that people associate with places. Facts can be derived from relevant
science, engineering, and local knowledge. In contrast to scienc knowledge based
on quantave data and controlled experiments, local knowledge is based on personal
observaon, tends to be more holisc and less reduconist than Western science,
and is rooted in the experience of place. Local knowledge tends to focus on me—and
context-specic concerns rather than on deriving generalizable rules (Gregory et al.,
Accessible learning opportunies involve proponents and local stakeholders learning
from each other in a group seng, which can be described as deliberave learning
(Gregory et al., 2012). Appropriately ming the engagement eorts is part of making
this learning accessible. The character and so skills of the chosen messenger(s) can
have substanal consequences. If the values and manner in which proponents provide
informaon oends community stakeholders, learning opportunies may disintegrate
and stakeholders may be less likely to accept the project. Similarly, if community
members withhold informaon about place aachments or other threatened values,
developers cannot incorporate these into the project design. Bridging organizaons,
who are accountable to local communies and project proponents, can not only help
translate facts and values but also create opportunies for the co-producon and
sharing of knowledge to inform decision making. As noted by Pomeroy et al. (2014),
we recommend that oshore wind farm project proponents and others designing
community engagement processes acknowledge and address potenal 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 idened by our case studies and Dietz (2013), creang an environment of respect
and incorporang various types of knowledge (e.g., local, experienal, scienc) is crical
for making learning accessible, improving the decision-making process, and potenally
improving social acceptance of the outcome. These mutual learning opportunies are
part of a consultave 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 modied to accommodate social, economic, and environmental
concerns, the locaon is shied based on avoiding heavily shed areas important to
The second insight we highlight is the importance of creang appropriate community
benets for people living near and/or potenally most impacted by a development.
Community benets aim to address the mismatch between oshore wind farms’ local
costs (e.g., perceived, potenal, or likely impact to views, the local environment, pre-
exisng acvies like shing, and ancipated future uses) and regional or global benets
(e.g., decreased carbon emissions, diversied electricity sources). Our experiences with
community benets in three case studies align with ndings from researchers who have
focused on oshore wind farm development in Europe. Aitken (2010) demonstrates
how dening and creang suitable community benets, including but not limited to
opportunies for local ownership, investment, and/or control, can help improve public
acceptance of projects in the UK. In order to build trust and percepons of fairness,
Lessons Learned for Engaging New
England Coastal Communies
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 7
Walker et al., (2014) emphasizes that it is important that community benets are not
perceived as bribes for consent. Rather, as corroborated by our case studies and the
literature on this topic, community benets can build local support if they are “perceived
as a means of creang greater equity” (Aitken, 2010, p. 68).
Various researchers and organizaons have compiled best pracces for stakeholder
engagement related to both onshore and oshore wind (CanWEA, 2011; Ecology
and Environment, Inc, 2015; IEA Wind, 2012). These publicaons explain how wind
farm sing and development processes can benet from meaningful engagement with
local communies, draw on local knowledge, implement fair and transparent decision
processes, and provide local benets. The eld of decision science demonstrates that
interacve and iterave engagement processes involving deliberave learning (learning
among all parcipants in a group seng) tend to lead to more acceptable outcomes,
greater parcipant sasfacon, and lasng, innovave soluons (Gopnik et al., 2012;
Gregory et al., 2012; Wondolleck and Yaee, 2000). Engagement processes involving
stakeholders, developers, and regulators can be designed to work through potenally
conicng priories and values among parcipants as well as uncertainty about
environmental impacts (e.g., will the development have a signicant impact on lobsters)
and social impacts (e.g., how many long-term local jobs will this development create).
Parcipatory processes involving extensive stakeholder engagement can be resource
and me-intensive, but this inial investment can result in lower long-term costs with
potenally fewer delays and it may reduce the risk of ligaon costs (Irvin and Stansbury,
2004; Randolph and Bauer, 1999). We explain our lessons learned in praccal ways using
case studies to help praconers bring insight from decision theory into pracce. Our
literature review and case studies highlight two overarching lessons we have learned
about community engagement and community benets.
Maine stakeholders including shermen and community members discuss how
oshore wind might create economic development opportunies during this
2011 informaonal tour.
8 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 9
Figure 1. The Northeast United States has strong oshore wind resources capable of providing renewable power
generaon for major populaon centers along the East Coast. Source: U.S. Department of Energy
Oshore 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. Sciensts
esmate that U.S. oshore winds have the potenal to generate hundreds of gigawas
of power (Schwartz et al., 2010). Tapping into this potenal could reduce reliance on
fossil fuel-based electricity generaon (Snyder and Kaiser, 2009). In Europe, the oshore
wind industry has dramacally expanded in the last two decades as governments have
subsidized this industry as part of achieving carbon emission reducon goals while
providing employment opportunies (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 ancipated installed capacity from consented
oshore wind farms and 98 GW from oshore wind farms in early planning stages
In contrast to the wind-swept but sparsely populated Midwest plains in the U.S.,
Atlanc oshore wind resources are close to densely populated areas where electricity
is needed. Also, oshore wind resources tend to be stronger and steadier than onshore
wind (Kaldellis and Kapsali, 2013).
Oshore Wind Projects
10 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
In Europe and North America, many wind developers inially and incorrectly presumed
that oshore 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).
Oshore wind farm development, however, has not been smooth sailing.
Cost is a major concern when it comes to oshore wind farms. The levelized cost of
oshore wind — the cost per megawa generated, including construcon and operang
costs over the project’s lifeme — 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 ancipate this cost will decline as the technology
develops. A 2015 report based on UK wind farms calculated that the levelized cost of
oshore wind decreased 11% from 2010 to 2014 (EY, 2015).
Northern European countries created energy policies with nancial incenves that
spurred the development of large-scale oshore wind farms. These include feed-in taris
(a guaranteed rate per kWh for electricity from a renewable energy source), certainty
over the right of renewable energy projects to access the grid, obligaons to source an
increased proporon of electricity from renewables and other policies that provide long-
term nancial security for investment in oshore wind (Firestone et al., 2015a; Toke,
2011). In the U.S., nancing problems have impeded proposed oshore wind farms
including Cape Wind and Bluewater Wind’s Delaware project (Firestone et al., 2015a).
Early U.S. oshore 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 oshore
convenonal and renewable energy as well as marine mineral resources. Some states,
such as Massachuses and Rhode Island, have worked to facilitate the appropriate
sing of oshore wind near their shores by engaging in ocean planning eorts designed
to idenfy environmental issues and reduce conicts between oshore wind and other
users (Nuers 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 crique corporaons
that build oshore wind farms as seeking to privaze 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). Addional concerns include noise polluon as
well as impacts to marine life and diminished visual qualies of a seascape (i.e., the change
in view). Potenal restricons on access to commercial and recreaonal shing grounds
are also prominent concerns (Gee and Burkhard, 2010).
New England shermen are concerned about potenal changes in access to shing
grounds as the nascent oshore 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 Oshore
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 11
As [oshore] wind farms become a reality in the US, communicaon will be
key to making them ‘shery friendly’ and minimizing disrupons.”
—John Williamson, Commercial Fisheries News (2013).
Image courtesy of Aaron, @zipzooka, via ickr.
becomes even more pronounced at the level of individual coastal communies, where
up to 40% of residents hold a lobster license (Island Instute, 2012). Fishing provides the
foundaon for secondary businesses such as processing, dining, and tourism, and acve
working waterfronts are important for retaining a sense of pride and tradion, the value
of which cannot be accounted for numerically.
Consequently, shermen have raised concerns about the extent to which oshore wind
could threaten their livelihoods and wanted to know if they would be compensated for
potenal losses (Basta et al., 2013; Island Instute, 2012a). Best pracces and tools
for reconciling commercial shing interests with oshore wind development have been
compiled (Moura et al., 2015). Also, BOEM developed a set of best management pracces
to minimize and migate the potenal impact of an oshore wind industry on commercial
sheries (Ecology and Environment, Inc, 2015). We focus on community engagement
eorts with a wide range of stakeholders, including but not limited to commercial shing
12 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Sing energy infrastructure tends to be controversial. Stakeholder engagement can
inuence social acceptance, which plays an important role in the long-term success or
failure of infrastructure proposals, including technologies like oshore wind farms. One of
the most signicant challenges to the development of oshore wind power, parcularly 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 oen labeled as NIMBYism (not in my backyard),
which is dened as “an atude ascribed to persons who object to the sing of something
they regard as detrimental or hazardous in their own neighborhood, while by implicaon
raising no such objecons to similar developments elsewhere” (Simpson and Weiner,
2003, as quoted in Kempton et al., 2005, p. 125). Studies based on naonal and state polls
demonstrate high and stable levels of public support for developing renewable energy in
general (Ansolabehere and Konisky, 2014) and oshore wind in parcular (Acheson, 2012;
Firestone et al., 2009; 2012). Other studies demonstrate intense local opposion to specic
projects (Kempton et al., 2005; Wolsink, 2010). Labeling opposion as NIMBY-isms can
brush over important site-specic characteriscs, stakeholder’s values linked to place and
legimate dissasfacon with the sing 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 oshore wind farm sites.
2.2 Why Does Stakeholder Engagement Maer?
Many lobstermen are concerned about mulple threats to their shery, not
just oshore wind farms. Regarding Maine island communies, disrupon
of lobstering, 'wouldn’t be the nail in the con, it would be the lid on the
con 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
aord it… if you take the lobsters away, you’ve got a dierent equaon.'”
—Island Fishermen from Islesford, Maine
(A Climate of Change: Warming Waters in Gulf of Maine, 2014)
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 13
Make Mutual Learning Accessible
14 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Our rst lesson, make mutual learning accessible, means creang an environment in
which stakeholders’ values as well as local, scienc, and polical knowledge can be
shared, understood, considered, and used in the decision process. We illustrate some
key aributes of how to make learning accessible. This includes making informaon
easily available and understandable to the intended audiences. Structuring deliberave
learning opportunies where dierent stakeholders learn from one another can also
make learning more accessible. Developers and other organizaons involved need to
pay close aenon to who they choose as messengers for communicang their values
and knowledge so they avoid alienang stakeholders. We also see ming as an important
and challenging aribute of accessibility. The following subsecons provide details on
ways to 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 beer relaonship between the two."
—Merlin Jackson, shing representave for London Array oshore wind farm
In order to have informed opinions about a proposed wind farm, people in adjacent
communies need easy access to informaon about wind farm technology in general,
the specics of the project, and how this development could impact individuals and
their communies. New informaon can inuence opinions, especially when there are
high levels of uncertainty related to a proposed project (Dietz and Stern, 2008). This
informaon should be readily available (e.g., published in locally popular newsleers,
posted on bullen boards, paper copies in public places, easy to nd online) and
communicated using language for a public audience (e.g., translate megawas 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 oake agreement).
Local knowledge and priories oen need to be translated so that developers understand
local experse and values, such as shermen’s experse on suitable routes to lay the
cable and the locaon of prime shing areas to be avoided (Field, 2014).
Readily Available and
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 15
Deliberave learning is the exchange of both knowledge and values in a group seng,
which is important for developing trust, mutual respect, and reaching more sasfying
outcomes among those engaged in decision-making processes (Gregory et al., 2012).
Deliberave learning opportunies can improve stakeholder engagement in oshore
wind project consideraon and site development. These learning opportunies can
involve joint fact-nding, such as Rhode Island’s Special Area Management Plan process,
and values claricaon, such as the priorizaon of sustainability issues and potenal
soluons in the Martha’s Vineyard Island Plan. The proceeding Case Studies secon
unpacks these and other examples of deliberave learning in relaon to New England
oshore wind farms.
Collang dierent types of knowledge and sharing facts and values can help address a
potenally unequal power dynamic between project proponents “from away” and local
communies. Wind farm proponents benet 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 sing process, project planners could benet from recognizing the validity
and signicance of symbolic and aecve dimensions of seascapes in the sing process
(Devine-Wright and Howes, 2010; Wiersma and Devine-Wright, 2014). For instance,
a sherman’s identy and a sense of heritage may be linked to using a parcular area
of the ocean slated for an oshore wind farm, parcularly in Maine where lobstering
territory is oen exclusive and handed down from one generaon 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 aachment, heritage, and identy)
benets they associate with a place (Gee, 2010). Project developers should recognize
and accommodate such concerns, which could be done within a deliberave learning
The individual or group who shares and translates facts and values among stakeholders
and proponents can strongly inuence the decision process. If the technology and its
costs and benets are not appropriately translated or people distrust the source of the
informaon, stakeholders may feel alienated or disengage from the decision process
(Wynne, 1992; 1989), and potenally become entrenched in their opinion regardless
of new informaon that arises (Kahan, 2010). Informaon, facts and, scienc
literacy alone have a limited inuence on opinions (Kahan et al., 2012). People tend
to “endorse whichever posion reinforces their connecon to others with whom
they share important commitments” (Kahan, 2010, p. 297). Arguably more important
than technical informaon, the social context in which informaon is shared and the
person presenng it (the messenger) can exert substanal inuence on atudes,
opinions, and behavior (Cialdini and Goldstein, 2004; Kahan, 2010). This encompasses
the personalies, communicaon styles, and values of people sharing informaon and
facilitang community meengs and dialogues. Skill is needed to translate technical
scienc 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
beer understand the salience, credibility, and legimacy of local perspecves.
Mindful of the Messenger
16 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Shiing local stakeholders from playing the role of recipients of informaon to producers
of informaon that developers and government ocials can understand, respect, and
use can be an empowering experience for local stakeholders (Tobias, 2009). Boundary
or bridging organizaons, such as the Island Instute, SeaPlan, Gulf of Maine Research
Instute, and NOAA’s Sea Grant program, can assist in this co-producon and sharing
of knowledge to inform decision making (Cash et al., 2006). Boundary or bridging
organizaons can be dened with the following characteriscs (Cash et al., 2003):
• Accountability to both sides of a boundary, e.g., local communies and project
• Use of “boundary objects,” e.g., maps reports, and forecasts, which actors on
dierent sides of a boundary co-produce.
• Parcipaon across the boundary involving
– Coordinaon of complementary experse
This boundary/bridging organizaon serves as a neutral convener (IEA Wind, 2012).
This (more) objecve third party can help run the community engagement and public
outreach process but does not push for a specic outcome, nor do they stand to
benet based on a parcular outcome. This can help to build credibility regarding the
planning process with communies (IEA Wind, 2012). Ideally, project proponents retain
an organizaon or person with excellent communicaon and facilitaon skills that the
community already trusts. Also, stakeholders are more likely to be open to learning new
informaon if the values of the messenger and/or bridging organizaon resonate with
them (Kahan, 2010).
Public mistrust, skepcism, and opposion to renewable energy proposals can be
reduced if people have meaningful and mely opportunies to voice their concerns in
decision-making (Bell et al., 2005). Literature on planning processes and environmental
management stresses the importance of engaging communies early and oen (Dietz
and Stern, 2008; Gregory et al., 2012), yet this can be challenging due to uncertaines
inherent in early stages of project development. Wind farm developers oen spend
years collecng the requisite informaon to comply with regulatory requirements and
determine opmal sites. Developers may be reluctant to share uncertain details, such
as the specic locaon of a site, before they are conrmed. During this early stage,
developers tend to share incomplete informaon when they engage in community
meengs, which can be frustrang for local stakeholders who may perceive the developer
as being dishonest by withholding informaon. The uncertainty of the impacts can also
Timing: Substanal Public
Engagement Before Site Selecon
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 17
Upstream research can help navigate uncertaines associated with a new technology
and the impacts it may have. When conducng upstream research, sciensts,
government authories, bridging organizaons, and/or developers can discuss a new
technology with cizen groups before any choices are made regarding if and where
the technology may be used. Upstream research can help sciensts and developers
to “open innovaon 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 quesons, including, “Why
this technology? Why not another? Who needs it? Who is controlling it? Who benets
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-eecve way?” (Wilsdon and Willis, 2004, p. 28).
State, tribal, and federal agencies can iniate ocean planning to facilitate upstream
research. Ocean planning involves coordinang regional planning for current and future
ocean industry, conservaon, and recreaon. Before areas are designated for specic
ocean uses, such as oshore renewable energy development, ocean planning iniaves
have provided opportunies for data collecon, dialogue on various uses, and values
and sharing of informaon. This early engagement can help stakeholders learn about
technologies and how they could be managed without triggering place-protecve
opposion. Such opposion can stem from perceived threats to specic places that
may be important to people’s sense of identy and to which they may have other strong
aachments (Devine-Wright, 2009).
In addion to being included in ocean planning processes, BOEM also has the potenal
to facilitate upstream research as the agency interacts with state, tribal, and local
governments through task force meengs on specic oshore resource issues. This
helps in providing transparency regarding issues at dierent levels of government
and provides opportunies for stakeholders to learn and ask quesons about areas of
federal waters or specic projects. BOEM has the authority to collect and share data
on and then dene boundaries of oshore ocean areas that are available via leases to
wind farm developers (Firestone et al., 2015a). Through BOEM’s task force meengs,
informaon is directed to the specic set of stakeholders that an oshore renewable
energy project may aect. This type of early engagement with stakeholders is crical in
any ocean development project.
Early engagement can dispel community member’s potenal 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
iterave and potenally mul-year stakeholder involvement in a decision process. The
benets of frequent engagement can be substanal, however. Building trust among
proponents, the selected “messengers” and communies, takes me as does allowing
for new informaon and quesons to arise. Timely deliberaon on idenfying and
procuring community benets can also build trust.
18 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Provide Community Benets
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 19
Community benets are addional and disnct funds or investments that the developer
provides to communies, oen near project sites (Walker et al., 2014). Benets
associated with the generaon of renewable electricity, such as carbon reducon, are
diuse and tend to accrue at a global scale while several environmental, economic, and
landscape impacts are concentrated and local. Providing community benets above and
beyond tax revenues can play an important role in managing renewable energy scale-
related distribuonal conicts (Wolsink, 2007; Zografos and Marnez-Alier, 2009).
Community benets can help balance the provision of private and public benets
associated with an oshore wind farm. Some perceive oshore wind development as
privazing the ocean, which historically has been a public space for shing, recreang,
and other acvies (Devine-Wright and Howes, 2010; Firestone et al., 2009; Pomeroy
et al., 2014). The federal management agency overseeing the development of oshore
wind, BOEM, has public good-oriented goals, but they use market-based tools to
achieve these (e.g., aucons involving private developers). Part of BOEM’s mission
is to, “promote energy independence, environmental protecon, and economic
development,” via delineang and auconing areas of the ocean for dierent purposes,
including oshore wind farms (BOEM, 2015). BOEM’s public good-oriented goals may
be less salient to residents of communies adjacent to wind farm sites compared to
local concerns, such as displacement of shermen from shing grounds. Developers
may provide local, salient community benets 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 formaon and provision of community benets can erode or build trust and
percepons of fairness (Aitken, 2010). Establishing trust and percepons of fairness
rests on both the process of coming up with appropriate benets as well as the models
and mechanisms used to deliver the benets.
Provide Community Benets
Local impacts, such
of shermen from
shing grounds, can
be minimized through
learning and balanced
20 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Community benets are required by law in some contexts and are voluntary in others. For
example, land-based wind developers in Maine must pay host communies according
to the number of installed turbines (Maine State Legislature, 2010), but oshore wind
developers are not required by law to provide community benets in the UK (Aitken,
2010). Relevant literature and our case studies point to the importance of collaboraon
among developers, communies, and government agencies to idenfy and provide
community benets rather than only respond to government mandates about benets
(Aitken, 2010; Rudolph et al., 2015).
Early discussions among government authories, developers, and communies are
needed to arrive at acceptable denions and understandings of communies, benets,
impacts, and how they relate to each other (see Figure 2). Communies can be based
on locaon (e.g., a town), interests (e.g. recreaonal boaters), groups who are adversely
impacted (e.g., commercial shermen), organizaons (e.g., an energy cooperave) and/
or other shared characteriscs. Benets can be understood as sharing economic gains
associated with tapping into a public natural resource (i.e., wind), recognion of hosts
(e.g., developer seeks to be a good neighbor, communies receive benets for hosng
substaon infrastructure), increasing local support (e.g., community groups or energy
cooperaves who receive benets commit to supporng wind farm), accounng for
impact (e.g., recognion of local negave impacts), compensaon for agreed upon and
specic losses (e.g., funds to improve habitats for birds at high risk of collision with
turbines). Impacts can be perceived as posive (e.g., provision of jobs and carbon
neutral electricity) and/or negave (e.g., bird mortalies, decreased visual amenies).
Idenfying preferred interacons among communies, benets, and impacts can help
determine eecve community benets (Rudolph et al., 2015).
Establishing locally appropriate community benets involves clearly idenfying their
scale, role, and purpose (Cowell et al., 2011). Otherwise, these community benets
could be seen as a bribe that displaces civic duty (Sandel, 2012; Walker et al., 2014). Co-
creang community benets may reduce the percepon among stakeholders of benets
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 authories negoate with communies
about various benet models during early stages of wind farm planning, ideally before
subming planning applicaons.
Timing: Substanal Public
Engagement Before Site Selecon
Figure 2. A robust approach to developing community benets. This requires reaching a
common understanding of communies, benets, impacts, and their interacons among
developers, communies, and government authories. Italics denote examples. Adapted
from Rudolph et al. (2015).
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 21
Appropriate Community Benets
To collaboravely develop
can be dened by
• Locaons: town, island
• Interests/pracces: shermen, sailors
• Groups adversely impacted: shermen
• Organizaons: energy cooperaves,
• Other aributes: demographic
What are the impacts?
Why & how to
• Share economic gains associated
with using public resource
• Recognize hosts
• Account for impact
• Compensate for specic losses
22 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Community benets have taken many forms in dierent places. They can be integrated
into various stages of a project, such as the planning, perming, migaon, operaonal,
and decommissioning stages. We add to Rudolph et al.’s (2015) overview of common
oshore wind community benet models and mechanisms:
In Denmark and regions of Germany, community benets are oen based on cooperave
models in which members own the business and all prots aer taxes are given back
to members (Breukers and Wolsink, 2007). In the UK, energy developers annually pay
into a fund proporonal to the megawas (MW) of installed capacity for community
organizaons to spend on local iniaves (Cowell et al., 2011). For more detailed
descripons of dierent types of community benets, see Rudolph et al. (2015).
4.2 Flexible Models for
Custom Tailored Benets
• Community funds (most common)
• Other and pre-exisng funds
• Community ownership
• Equal distribuon of revenues
• Direct investment and project
funding (e.g., paying for
• Jobs, apprenceships and
• Educaonal programs
• Electricity discounts
• Community benet agreements
• Indirect benets from the supply
• Indirect benets via tourist facilies
Søren Hermansen of the Samsø Island Energy Academy briefs Maine island leaders on how the
Danish island’s energy plan included cooperavely sited and owned oshore wind turbrines.
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 23
24 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
We derived our key ndings on making mutual learning accessible and providing
community benets from relevant publicaons 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 oshore wind in New England beyond the
proposed Cape Wind farm. We see this lack of academic publicaons as an opportunity
for social science research to inform the development of this industry in this region.
Figure 3. Map of Case Study Islands. Wind data and categorizaon from NREL (2015).
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 25
Our case study communies dier from those connected by bridges or on the mainland
largely based of their relave isolaon. We summarize basic island community
characteriscs in Table 1 associated with our three case studies.
Characterisc Descripon Consequences
Small compared to adjacent
• Block Island: 1,051
• Martha’s Vineyard: 16,535
• Monhegan: 69
(U.S. Census, 2010)
Few technical experts
Local leadership posions are
oen part me or volunteer
Economy Strong dependence on shing
Relavely vulnerable due to
low economic diversicaon
Year-round residents are likely
more available to parcipate
in engagement eorts during
low season while seasonal
residents and visitors are more
likely to engage during the
Energy Costs Can be higher than mainland,
e.g., residenal electric rates on
Monhegan Island are ~$0.70
per kWh and ~$0.15 on the
Strong interest in alternaves
that could reduce energy
costs, parcularly on islands
without a grid connecon
Table 1. Key dierences between New England Island case study sites and mainland
communies relevant to engagement on energy issues. Although the populaon and
economy characteriscs apply to many small towns, we highlight how energy costs on
islands tend to be higher than on the mainland.
26 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Block Island, RI Martha’s Vineyard, MA Monhegan Island, ME
• Town hired consultants
to listen, translate and
• Developer reimbursed
town for consultants
• Developer priorized
outreach to community
(Island Instute, 2012b)
• Vineyard Power Cooperave
hosted interacve oshore
wind map viewer to
inform parcipants about
environmental, human use
and visual impacts
• Island Instute developed
peer-reviewed fact sheets to
address the quesons raised
during community meengs
(Island Instute, 2012c)
• Project preceded by
RI Ocean Special Area
Management Plan (SAMP)
process, which was
funded and supported by
federal, state and private
enes (Nuers and
Pinto da Silva, 2012)
• Engagement with shing
industry connued aer
• Community meengs
from 2009-2012 to
create and adopt
plan for Block Island (IEC,
• Process to create Martha’s
Vineyard Island Plan and
energy coop entailed
substanal learning and
sharing of informaon and
• Coop used online wind map
viewer to solicit resident
preferences for farm
• Informaon Exchange
site visits enabled diverse
stakeholders to meet
repeatedly and exchange
informaon and experiences
• Mapping Working Waters
project engaged shermen
to share local knowledge
and provided opportunity
for them to learn about wind
farms (Island Instute, 2009)
• University of Maine
collected informaon on
turbines’ proximity to shing
areas, created and shared
visualizaons, and conducted
tourism impacts study
• SAMP process made
informaon about state
waters readily available
before OSW farm was
considered (Nuers and
Pinto da Silva, 2012)
• Having parcipated in
SAMP process, oshore
wind was not a new topic
to local leaders when
project was proposed
• Formal community
2006 to 2010 to create
Island Plan on various
• Recruited energy coop
members over mulple years
starng in 2009
• Over a year of engagement
before state and federal sites
• Timing of engagement
around state waters test site
acvies created challenges
from which the community
organized Monhegan Energy
Task Force emerged
• Presentaons about OSW
in both winter and summer
to reach year-round and
• Developer hired local
liaison to lead outreach
• Cooperave founders
and members are island
• Leaders in Monhegan Energy
Task Force assumed role of
• Consultants helped
to bridge town and
• Partnership between local
cooperave and developer
provides a bridge to the
• Island Instute served
as bridging organizaon
between developer and
Create Accessible Learning Opportunies
Table 2. Summary of good pracces highlighted in this report related to community
engagement in three proposed oshore wind farm sites.
For more detail, see case study descripons.
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 27
As summarized in Table 2, we provide an overview of our case studies demonstrang the lessons that the Island
Instute has learned pernent to community engagement adjacent to proposed oshore wind farms. At the me
of wring, each case study is at a dierent stage of project development. Construcon began on the Block Island
Wind Farm in the summer of 2015. The Vineyard Power Cooperave ocially 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 oang oshore
wind test site near Monhegan Island, but they have since received two addional DOE grants to connue
rening the design of their turbines.
Block Island, RI Martha’s Vineyard, MA Monhegan Island, ME
• Provides mainland grid
• Reducon in electricity
• Ends need to import 1 mill
gallons of diesel annually
• On-island infrastructure
• Fiber opc strands in
cable bundle provided to
increase internet speed
• Local jobs provided:
mariners and shermen
hired to provide security
• Embedded in Vineyard
mission and organizaonal
• Coop members steer sing
decision (VPCOMW, 2015)
• Community Benet
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 connecon,
reduced electricity rates,
improved broadband internet
Provide Community Benets
Case Studies (Cont.)
28 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Construcon began on Deepwater Wind’s 30 MW, ve-turbine wind farm three miles
o the coast of Block Island in the summer of 2015 aer a relavely smooth project
development process compared to the nearby Cape Wind proposal. This can be aributed
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 (Nuers and Pinto da Silva, 2012).
Also, the relavely 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 ancipated 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 beneted from the
state’s long-term contracng legislaon, as well as minimal federal regulatory review
due to the project’s locaon 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-dened benets
We argue that ming also played a key role in the success of this project. Creang and
disseminang the SAMP before the wind farm was proposed meant that informaon
about state waters was already readily available and accessible and had been discussed
with key stakeholders (Nuers and Pinto da Silva, 2012), including the town council
of New Shoreham on Block Island, which acvely 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
represenng 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 corporaon), Deepwater Wind and the town council discussed the town’s
need for addional 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 Instute, 2012c).
These consultants served the funcon of a bridging organizaon between the
developers and the island community members. The consultants translated pernent
technical details and locally relevant informaon to the town council. They shared
informaon with the broader community, elded quesons at community meengs,
listened to community concerns, and translated these concerns into comments during
the formal regulatory processes. The experse of the consultants provided the town
council with greater condence that community concerns would be beer integrated
into the wind farm planning processes.
5.1 The Ocean State’s Oshore Wind Farm
Pioneers, Block Island, RI
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 29
‘‘ The community [of Block Island] beneted greatly from the sharing
of informaon via the Ocean SAMP process, and by Deepwater
Wind's commitment to pung in place a trusted liaison as conduit
for informaon... By employing [the liaison] and locang his oce on
Block Island, Deepwater Wind was able to provide "up to the minute"
informaon and build relaonships of trust. This was crical to success.
By negoang with the developer a number of key community benet
items, the Town of New Shoreham became a partner (albeit small) in the
project, not just a passive venue to be ulized/exploited… We became
educated, conversant, increasingly condent, and responsible cizens 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 Gae, long-me New Shoreham Town Council Member
We see locally-relevant community benets 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 ancipates that this wind farm and the submarine
transmission cables connecng 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,
ancipates that this wind farm and the submarine transmission cables connecng 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 negoated to have ber
opc strands included in the electricity cable bundle that were provided for the town.
Faster internet will benet residents and businesses that have struggled with the slower
microwave-based broadband, parcularly during the busy summer months. Deepwater
Wind and New Shoreham have also developed a formal Community Benet 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 construcon phase, including opportunies for local mariners
and shermen (Smith et al., 2015).
¹ This ancipated cost reducon esmate did not account for the 2014 dip in oil prices.
The oshore wind farm, however, is ancipated to reduce the volality of electricity prices
on the island. In the long term, natural gas and oil prices are expected to rise (EIA, 2015).
30 // Engaging Communies in Oshore 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 sele
for the future we get” (MVC, 2009, p. 1). Eight years aer the controversial Cape
Wind oshore wind project had been proposed, the plan included a recommendaon
to create a community-owned renewable energy cooperave so islanders could have
more autonomy over their energy producon and beer ensure community benets
associated with renewable energy development. To date, Vineyard Power has developed
ve commercial-scale solar photovoltaic projects on Martha’s Vineyard and connues
to look to mulple renewable energy technologies going forward, including oshore
In 2009, Vineyard Power began recruing 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 benets such as inclusion in the decision making processes in an island-
owned, acon-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 cooperave’s community benets are embedded
in the cooperave’s mission: “to produce electricity from local, renewable resources
while advocang for and keeping the benets within our island community” and the
organizaon’s vision “to be Martha's Vineyard's community-owned energy cooperave”
Vineyard Power members have made community benets a central theme in the
development of this oshore wind farm. Lack of perceived community benets, arguably,
played a more minor role in Cape Wind, an earlier Massachuses-based oshore 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 inially developed a wind farm ownership model inuenced 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 communicaon Peckar, 2015). The complexity,
scale, and scope of the currently proposed oshore 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 benet remains.
In January, 2015, BOEM auconed the rights to lease oshore wind in areas in federal
waters south of Martha’s Vineyard. Oshore MW received a 10% discount on their bid
price because they had executed a Community Benet Agreement with Vineyard Power.
The CBA outlined opportunies to invesgate local benets to the island including job
creaon, an operaons and maintenance facility, and local equity ownership in the
project (VPCOMW, 2015).
A Cooperave Approach to Oshore Wind
on Martha’s Vineyard, MA
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 31
While oshore wind has followed a tumultuous path in Maine, its history provides us with
important insights regarding mutual learning, ming, and accessibility of informaon. In
2009, Maine set ambious goals to become a naonal leader in ocean energy (MCP,
2009) and created opportunies for development of oshore wind and dal energy
demonstraon projects in both state and federal waters (MPUC, 2010). In each of these
jurisdicons, discussions of oshore wind had implicaons for the island of Monhegan,
a remote community twelve miles out to sea with a year-round populaon of about
sixty and some of the highest energy costs in the naon at ~$0.70 kWh vs. ~$0.15 kWh
for mainland residenal electricity in Maine (MPUC, 2015).
Confronng Deep Water Challenges on
Monhegan Island, ME
In earlier stages of the project’s development, the cooperave hosted an interacve
oshore 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 locaon for
the wind farm. This website provided readily available and appropriate informaon
while encouraging parcipaon in sharing local values related to proposed locaons.
The website provided informaon about visual, ecological, and human use impacts
based on various proposed sites, including data collected from local sources such as
island shermen. The cooperave also hosted a series of community meengs to share
wind farm visualizaons 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 acve parcipant throughout the BOEM oshore
wind leasing process and provide updates and informaon to local
municipalies, businesses, and residents of our island to ensure our
community and stakeholders remain engaged. We also believe that
any oshore wind farm development in our surrounding waters should
provide local benets. We took control of our energy future and decided
to be an acve parcipant in the process. Through years of outreach
with our members, local legislators, and the local municipalies, BOEM
recognized the naon’s rst Community Benet Agreement between
our organizaon and Oshore MW. Through this CBA, we will ensure
that our island community’s local economy will remain strong through
local ownership and job creaon.”
— Richard Andre, President of Vineyard Power
32 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
In state waters, Maine made posive inial steps to engage stakeholders in its strategy
to expedite the development of the industry by designang three research and
demonstraon “test” sites within state waters. Representaves of Governor Baldacci’s
Ocean Energy Task Force worked with the Maine Coastal Program (MCP) within the
Maine State Planning oce to host a series of public meengs and “kitchen table”
(i.e., small and informal) discussions along the Maine coast where sites were being
considered. They incorporated scienc 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 potenal 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 acvity eort around the island in order to idenfy a site
of least impact.
Eorts to site oshore wind in nearby federal waters underscored the importance of
ming and availability of informaon. On September 1, 2010, the Maine Public Ulies
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 locaon of a site. During this me, the Island
Instute worked as a bridging organizaon to facilitate mutual learning through the
Oshore Wind Energy Informaon Exchange, an outreach and educaon iniave to
inform and engage coastal and marine stakeholders, developers, and decision-makers
on the potenal for oshore wind energy development in the Gulf of Maine. The
iniave included deliberave learning experiences such as exchange trips to shing
communies as well as a wind farm, the human use mapping project Mapping Working
Waters (see Appendix A), informaon sessions at the annual Fishermen’s Forum in
Maine (Island Instute, 2009), and readily available and understandable fact sheets
(Island Instute, 2012c). These eorts provided coastal stakeholders and industry
representaves with a baseline understanding of community priories as well as the
oshore wind industry, while creang an opportunity for stakeholders to meet each
other informally and build relaonships.
‘‘ As a lobstermen from Maine who was part of informaon exchanges, I took
the me to learn more about oshore wind, the oshore wind industry,
and share what I know with people involved in the wind industry. I was
able to substanvely engage with Statoil in detailed conversaons about
the potenal impacts and concerns surrounding their proposed project.”
— Dave Cousens, President of the Maine Lobstermen's Associaon
A sherman shows oshore wind developers where he shes
using a map produced by the Island Instute as part of its
Mapping Working Waters program.
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 33
In January 2013, Maine PUC announced its selecon of an unsolicited proposal from
Statoil – a mulnaonal corporaon specializing in oshore energy infrastructure – for
tesng oang turbine technology in federal waters in the state’s Midcoast region. By
this me, marine users and other stakeholders in the area had already parcipated in
educaon and informaon exchange opportunies, preparing them to more proacvely
and construcvely engage in discussions with the developer and decision-makers (Island
Later in 2013, the University of Maine entered a federal funding compeon with a
new scope of acvies 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 implicaons, this
impacted Monhegan by signicantly liming 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 informaon inially strained relaons between
the island community and Maine Aqua Ventus (MAV), the University-led consorum
developing the larger project, but both pares quickly commied to improve
communicaons. The rst step was to clarify points of contact and expectaons for
communicaons 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
priorize informaon that the community needed and facilitate discussion of community
benets associated with the proposed oshore wind project. METF and MAV engaged
in weekly phone calls to enhance the ow of informaon and worked to develop an
expectaons document to ensure mely project communicaons. During this me,
both pares looked to Block Island for examples of how informaon was shared and
community benets 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 addional federal
funding ($3.7 mill) to connue rening their oang turbine designs (Turkel, 2015).
Some residents sll have concerns about the project but the developer and community
have laid a more solid foundaon upon which future communicaon 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
informaon to the community. The key for Monhegan Energy Task Force
was to develop a plan for sharing informaon and for making research
resources accessible. We co-authored a communicaons 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 communicaon between the community and Monhegan
Energy Task Force paired with open communicaon between Monhegan
Energy Task Force and Maine Aqua Ventus helped all pares keep up to
date and kept misinformaon to a minimum.”
— Marian Chio, Co-chair, Monhegan Energy Task Force
34 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 35
Based on our community engagement and community benet literature review and our
three oshore 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
informaon exchanges, iterave community meengs, interacve web-based
portals, and “kitchen table” meengs. In parcular, inter-island exchanges of
experience have contributed to island residents sharing their experiences and
experse relevant to oshore wind farm development processes. As the industry
connues to develop, relaonship building and informaon sharing should be
encouraged not only within projects but across them, enabling host communies,
developers, and other stakeholders to share what works and strengthen the
community engagement process throughout the industry. Government authories
and bridging organizaons should engage local stakeholders near sites suitable for
this technology before parcular oshore wind projects are proposed.
Custom tailor community benets
Community benet models and mechanisms are diverse. They are most eecve
when developers, communies, and government authories work collaboravely
to come to a shared understanding of the denions of community, benets and
impacts as well as how these components relate to each other. This process of
claricaon can help determine appropriate community benets.
Monhegan Island residents brief state leaders on local energy challenges, including the high
cost of diesel-generated power.
36 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Oshore wind farms have the potenal to play an important role in shiing to low-carbon
energy systems. The ways in which we approach, manage, and respond to inevitable
controversy over these technologies impacts the pace and ecacy of addressing climate
change and transing to low carbon energy sources (Roberts et al., 2013). As with any
infrastructure decision, it is essenal that oshore wind developers and decision makers
engage local communies and address concerns about impacts and benets of such
projects. Based on what we have learned from the experiences of Block Island, Martha’s
Vineyard, and Monhegan Island, building a foundaon of both knowledge and trust is
crucial for the success of an oshore wind farm. Making mutual learning accessible and
providing clear community benets can help ensure that 1) the decision-making processes
around these projects are inclusive, eecve, and perceived as fair; 2) local, scienc and
polical knowledge is considered; and 3) that projects deemed worthy of moving ahead are
Invest in social science research and communicaon on
oshore 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
movang or hindering adopon of oshore wind infrastructure, and why atudes
and behaviors towards technology change. Pre and post surveys and other research
methods could help us understand energy-related atude and behavior changes
over me and ancipate future changes. Extensive social science literatures provide
insights on stakeholder engagement with regards to proposed infrastructure
development, but relavely few academic studies have focused on community
engagement with the nascent oshore 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 addional insights. Concurrently, we recommend that
greater eort should be invested to communicate social science outputs in order
to enhance their accessibility to communies, developers, and other oshore wind
stakeholders. A wide range of acvies and events – possibly including trainings,
toolkits, experienal learning, webinars, and conference presentaons – would
help to ensure that robust research is at the ngerps of those acvely involved in
shaping the future of the industry.
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 37
38 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
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42 // Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind
Engaging Communies in Oshore Wind // 43
Mapping Working Waters is an iniave that
seeks to ll crical gaps in spaal informaon
on human uses of the marine environment
along the Maine coast, parcularly
commercial shing, that the Island Instute
launched in 2009. The project documents
how island and coastal communies use and
depend on marine areas with the intenon
of helping them to explain their relaonship
with the ocean decision and policy-makers.
This project expands beyond the near-shore
environment to include the spaal extent
of some communies’ commercial shing
acvies in the oshore environment, 10 to
40 miles o the coast of Maine. Documenng
this informaon enabled shermen to beer
interact with oshore 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 informaon on their marine uses
but also for Island Instute sta to provide
informaon on oshore wind technology,
policy, project development, and potenal
interacons with their shing acvies. As
such, the aached map overlays areas of
interest for renewable energy development
with lobster shing acvity, a nearly one
billion dollar industry in Maine. This and other
maps created during this project provide a
starng point for conversaons between
shermen and oshore wind developers
about where shing acvity takes place,
the trends that drive it, and who might be
For more informaon on this project,
including other maps, please see: hp://
386 Main Street, Rockland, ME 04841