Sustainable Communities and Wind Energy Project Acceptance in Massachusetts

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Sustainable Communities and Wind Energy Project Acceptance in Massachusetts

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Minnesota Journal of Law, Science and Technology




o The State of Massachusetts is one of the most progressive U.S. states in advancing sustainability through energy conservation and renewable energy. The Green Communities Act, signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick in 2008, has awarded 110 communities with the title “Green Communities” in the last five years. The title is earned after communities achieve “five clean energy benchmarks,” two of which are the provision of “as-of-right” siting for renewable/alternative energy generation and the adoption of an expedited application and permitting process for “as-of-right” energy facilities. The expedited “as-of-right” siting is one of the policy tools designed to encourage communities to speed up the siting of renewable energy projects—particularly wind and solar—as the State has a goal of obtaining 20% of its electricity capacity from renewable energy projects by 2020. Despite the fact that high-ranking energy officials in the State are of the opinion that Massachusetts is able to continue on the path of a “‘clean energy revolution . . . in large part because of leadership at the local level,’” the State has had many difficulties implementing renewable energy projects locally, and many projects have met with strong public resistance. This paper examines the relationship between the “Green Community” designation and the level of acceptance of wind energy projects in the State. Results from surveys conducted in Spring 2012 in three Massachusetts towns—one of which is a designated “Green Community”—are used to show how residents’ perceptions of the siting process, project familiarity, and opportunities to participate in the siting decision affect project support. The paper also discusses the policy implications for renewable energy facilities.


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15 Minn. J. L. Sci. & Tech. 529 (2014)

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Petrova, Maria A.. (2014). Sustainable Communities and Wind Energy Project Acceptance in Massachusetts. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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