Date of Award

2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs

Department

Marine Affairs

First Advisor

David Bidwell

Abstract

As offshore wind energy development gains a foothold in the United States, 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. This lack of benefits can influence the level of support in the community for a project and eventually lead toward opposition. Community benefits, provided through the wind farm developer, may help garner local support in communities in close proximity to a wind farm project. In the U.S. offshore wind industry, community benefits are not obligatory but are sometimes offered voluntarily by the developer. This research focused on the federal Kitty Hawk Wind Lease off the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which was awarded to a private energy company in 2017. Remote communities, like the Outer Banks of North Carolina, may see little investment or job opportunities from an offshore wind farm while still experiencing effects from its proximity. The research goal of this study was to understand how key informants think of a proposed offshore wind farm in the context of community benefits. In Summer 2019, we conducted extensive semi-structured interviews with 11 key informants in the area. Using thematic analysis, we developed overarching themes in the data. Our data shows that key informants are skeptical of direct benefits like local employment from the project while showing optimism for indirect, regional benefits. Concerns over impacts center on the landing of a transmission cable and possible effects on the commercial fishing industry. Regarding community benefits, 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 emphasizes the need for more research on community benefits from offshore wind in the United States and makes recommendations on how to incorporate community benefits into the U.S. federal leasing process.

Available for download on Saturday, November 07, 2020

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