Preferences for community benefits for offshore wind development projects: A case study of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, U.S.

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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.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning