Deciding where to place turbines, or “siting” (rhymes with “biting”) can be tricky. Issues can arise between developers and landowners. Both parties stand to benefit from wind energy, but friction between the two can delay or doom wind projects.
Wind developers want to develop: to procure land rights and install as many profit-generating turbines as possible. Landowners and community members might favor financial compensation, but not at significant cost to the land, serenity and/or aesthetics they value.
I’ve written before about stakeholders asking developers detailed questions. Since both sides can economically prosper, they both have a mutual interest in fair negotiations.
To reach a balanced, lasting compromise, both stakeholder groups must be honest and patient when negotiating siting.
Wind developers in particular should:
Offer credible, peer-reviewed facts.
Promote outreach education.
Adhere to contracts.
Engage as many affected stakeholders as possible/relevant.
Support community engagement and review of project plans and policies.
Allocate the time/space for meaningful information-exchanges.
Learn from past experiences.
Patience is a must for both sides. Developers must do their best to ensure a fair and credible review process with local stakeholders. Creating meaningful information-exchanges takes commitment and discipline. Developers who respect stakeholders have a much better chance of seeing their projects move forward.
Landowners whose opinions aren’t garnered, or whose questions remain unanswered, are unlikely to approve any new development on their land.
When both parties engage honestly and patiently, the benefits are tremendous. Wind is a valuable commodity that creates jobs and clean energy.
There’s an Oklahoma saying: “If you aren’t seated at the table, you’re on the menu.”
Landowners and developers can work together, and there are countless success stories across the Midwest. But concerned stakeholders must have a seat at the discussion table--or everyone could go home hungry.
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