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Community wind projects often face opposition on a range of issues. Concerns about potential noise and visual impact, avian (bird) mortality, and impact on residential property values are the most common. While the permitting process includes components that provide stakeholders with more information and prompts mitigation measure development, community wind project teams do best by proactively hearing and responding to their community’s concerns.

Impact on residential property values is one of the most polarizing issues facing community wind projects. While introducing community members to research on property value impacts and other issues is just one aspect of easing their concerns, it can be important to building project support.

One potentially valuable resource is “Wind Energy Facilities and Residential Properties: The Effect of Proximity and View on Sales Prices” –a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory-authored study on the relationship between wind projects and property values (Journal of Real Estate Research, 2011). This article is based on one of the most comprehensive studies to date on this issue, and it is one of only three peer-reviewed studies on the topic. The study looked at 7,459 homes within 10 miles of 24 wind projects across the country, and field visits were made to each home.

This article may be particularly helpful, as it examines three different (and common) perceived impacts of wind projects, all of which were found to have no statistically significant impact on the sale of homes in the study sample:

  • Scenic vista: A perception that a home may be devalued because of the view of a wind energy facility, and the potential impact of that view on an otherwise scenic vista.
  • Area stigma: A perception that the area surrounding a wind energy facility will appear more developed, which may adversely affect home values in the local community regardless of whether any individual home has a view of the wind turbines.
  • Nuisance Stigma: A perception that factors that may occur in close proximity to wind turbines, such as sound and shadow flicker, will have an adverse influence on home values.

By engaging community members in conversations about their concerns early and often, project teams can better understand prevailing attitudes about the issues and design an appropriate outreach effort tailored to the residents and other stakeholders.  Outreach efforts might include sponsored “fieldtrips” to other wind turbines in the region or inviting representatives from regions with completed wind projects to present. Alternatively, neighborhoods can host coffee nights at a local library or other community gathering point for open discussions. Ideally, such events would be hosted by a neutral third-party wind expert, such as an academic, representative from the state’s energy department, or consultant or developer not attached to the project.

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 DOER filed a report with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities outlining recommendations for utilities to improve the process of connecting new renewable energy generation installations to the electric grid. In its filing, DOER attached the Massachusetts Distributed Generation Interconnection Report which surveyed customers seeking interconnection in the state, researched policies in other states, interviewed utilities, and made specific recommendations about improving interconnection processes and policies.

The status of progress on these issues and scheduling for distributed generation (DG) workshops is available at the Massachusetts DG and Interconnection Website (http://bit.ly/MADGIC).

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 Many communities interested in renewable energy have questions and concerns about net metering and interconnection. This is particularly true among communities exploring landfill solar or community wind projects, which are largely dependent on the Massachusetts net metering incentive.

DOER has succeeded in getting a commitment from the Massachusetts utilities to host monthly distributed (on-site) generation workshops. These workshops will cover the basics of interconnecting distributed generation technologies in investor-owned utility territories in Massachusetts as well as other pertinent distributed generation topics, including net metering. The DOER’s Massachusetts Distributed Generation and Interconnection Main Page has more information about upcoming workshops, as well as links to presentation materials from past events. In addition, the DOER DG site provides additional resources on these topics, including the “Basics of Interconnection and Net Metering.”

See http://bit.ly/MADGIC.

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The fifth grade chorus sings their "Solar Song" to the tune of "Do Re Mi" at a ribbon cutting for the 200 kW Simonian Center system in Sutton, MA.

UPDATE: The Sutton Simonian Center PV project has been highlighted on the Commonwealth’s “Energy Smarts” blog.

Celebrating successful community renewable energy projects can be an important part of building support for your project. Communities with completed projects are often seen as leaders, and their success demonstrates the feasibility of these efforts.

Ribbon cutting events can be an exciting way to celebrate and share successful projects and lessons learned. The fifth grade chorus in Sutton made up their own “Solar Song” to perform at the ribbon cutting for the Simonian Center for Early Learning  200 kW municipally-owned solar PV system.

See their memorable performance online.

“Whacky Solar Panel Song” 
Sol, solar panels Sol-Sol Solar panels
[Do] Sometimes it takes a bit of dough
[Re] Absorbed on sunny sunny days
[Mi] We’re talking green energy
[Fa] The project went very fa (r)
Sol Solar panels whoa, whoa, whoa
[La] Lots of energy for everyone
[Ti] For the world community
[Do] So we’ll do some good and maybe change the world

 

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