Document Type

Working Paper

Date of Original Version



Solar energy has grown rapidly in Rhode Island in recent years. While nearly all residents support a shift to renewable energy, the siting of utility-scale solar arrays is contentious. In town meetings, residents frequently are concerned about the location of solar arrays, what type of land is being altered, and the characteristics of the site and buffers. While heard, these concerns are difficult to incorporate into decisions because they are not comparable to the monetary costs and benefits of the project. The purpose of this study is to estimate resident preferences for utility-scale solar siting attributes and monetize them so they can be incorporated into benefit-cost analysis for siting decisions. We developed a contingent valuation survey and distributed it to a random sample of 3000 Rhode Island residents. Our results suggest the largest indicator of development approval is prior land use, with residents willing to pay an additional $10-21 in monthly utility bills for developments in commercial, industrial, brownfield, and covered landfill areas, whereas they are willing to pay $13-49 to avoid developments on farm and forest land. Additionally, respondents are willing to pay about $6-8 per month for a solar array to be fully screened and not visible. We conclude with a discussion of how these preferences can be incorporated into state and local solar siting policy.