Community Impacts of Wind Energy
Neighbors of existing or proposed wind projects may have questions about the turbines or development. Topics of potential concern include sound; shadow flicker; radar, TV, and radio signal interference; and impacts to other uses or industries. Before making decisions regarding whether a wind project installation is appropriate in a given location, it is important to assess these potential impacts. A properly sited wind project can coexist within the community with minimal intrusion.
Siting issues are typically addressed during the planning process, during which the developer uses computerized tools and experience gained from the more than 71,000 wind turbines installed in the United States to evaluate impacts relative to the site and the surrounding community. The siting process, including detailed community dialogue, should identify measures that may be required to minimize or mitigate any problems identified. Although the potential impacts will vary by project, WINDExchange provides credible information for landowners, community decision-makers, and the interested public about siting topics such as:
Public safety is always a consideration when siting wind turbines, and catastrophic wind turbine failures are rare.
Well-sited wind farms leave appropriate distances between the turbine and nearby residences to reduce or eliminate potential sound issues. However, because sound perception is an individual characteristic influenced by many factors, sound impacts should be documented and discussed with those communities.
Research shows that if property value impacts from wind energy development exist, they are too small and/or too infrequent to result in any widespread, statistically observable impact.
Proper siting can mitigate shadow flicker, which occurs when wind turbine blades cast shadows that move across the ground and nearby structures.
Wind turbine manufacturers can mitigate wind turbine interference with communication or radar signals.
Like any energy project, wind projects may alter views that members of the neighboring community are accustomed to.
In 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy funded Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to lead a 4-year project collecting data from a broad-based and representative sample of individuals living near U.S. wind power projects. The aim was to widen the understanding of how U.S. communities are reacting to the deployment of wind turbines and to provide insights to those communities considering wind projects. Learn about the National Survey of Attitudes of Wind Power Project Neighbors.