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New Englanders support more offshore wind power – just don’t send it to New York

New Englanders support more offshore wind power – just don’t send it to New York

Tourists play on a beach with the Block Island Wind Farm in the distance.

Rhode Island is home to the Rhode Island Historical Society. First offshore wind farm in America, most people support expanding offshore wind power – with one important caveat.

Our Research shows they’re less likely to support a wind power project if its energy flows to another state, and especially if it goes to a rival state. The same sentiment was found on the New Hampshire coast.

Social Scientists Like us call this “regionalism,” and our research suggests it could have serious repercussions for the renewable energy transition.

Think about the rivalries, sometimes even outright animosity, among baseball fans. Few regional rivalries are more intense than the one between New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox fans. These place-based identities can be more than mere bluster. influence people’s thoughts attitudesAbout rival cities in ways which go beyond the game. Allegiance to the Yankees You can even influence perceptionThe distance between New York City, Boston.

But does regional identity influence attitudes toward energy development in the long-term? Studies of public attitudes towards offshore wind energy development suggest that they do.

It is important which state has the power

We conducted two surveys – one in Rhode Island and the other on the New Hampshire coast – to see how people felt about offshore wind power, including energy exports.

Both groups supported wind power from their shores in general.

People are happier if power is produced for their own states. That wasn’t a surprise. Studies have shown that the public generally is more optimistic than expected. Exports of energy for objectsThis may be fueled by concerns about the future. Distributive justice. Distributive justice refers the difference between who bears the costs, such as having power plants and equipment visible, and who benefits from revenue and energy produced.

Tourists play on a beach with the Block Island Wind Farm in the distance.

The Block Island Wind Farm’s five turbines power the island with renewable energy. The rest of the electricity is sent back to the mainland grid.
Scott Eisen/Getty Images

When we asked about the export of power to specific states, the answers were more interesting.

New Hampshire residents find wind power projects that send power from the North Woods to their Maine brethren more appealing than projects that connect to more urban Massachusetts.

Rhode Islanders considered a wind energy project that served Massachusetts acceptable, but not one that served New York. People in the area were also reacting to the Red Sox-Yankees conflict. Red Sox-lovingRhode Island would prefer that electricity be sent to New England.

Our study demonstrates that not only are people less supportive of other states’ claiming electricity produced off their shores, but it also matters which state is involved. It’s important to remember that once electricity goes into the Northeast grid, power from those wind turbines could go anywhere. The power company and state that contract with a wind farm can benefit from the price and credit for contributing that clean energy, but electricity itself isn’t limited to that state, and the climate and clean energy benefits are also more global. Public acceptance of projects depends on how people perceive the benefits.

What does this mean in the future

How will this regionalism affect actual projects? These are not hypothetical situations, though we aren’t certain.

A Project off the Delaware coastMaryland will receive power. A Recently approved projectDevelopment off Rhode Island will bring electricity to Long Island, New York.

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The U.S. is on track for a rapid rise of offshore wind power. The Biden administration has Dedicated enthusiasticallyTo offshore wind development, coastal states have already committed almost 45 gigawatts offshore wind power. That’s close to the Global total of approximately 57 gigawattsIt is estimated that the U.S. produces approximately 1,000 times more electricity from its seven offshore wind turbines than it does now. This is the first large-scale construction project. Vineyard Wind, is under construction south of Martha’s Vineyard to ultimately provide up to 800 megawatts of electricity to its home state of Massachusetts.

Map of coasts showing lease areas offshore

These maps show areas that are available for lease in the future for offshore wind projects.

Offshore wind energy has been a subject of controversy in the U.S. Twenty-eight years of litigation. Often, public objections are raised about potential impacts on ocean views. fishing industryand whales, and other wildlife. Public opinion could also be affected by concerns about distributive justice.

What can you do?

One means of addressing fairness for energy projects is by providing “community benefits” such as Share your revenueProviding support to communities affected by offshore projects. We believe policymakers and offshore energy developers should be involved. broaden engagementConsider neighboring communities and states, and how the project might impact nearby communities.

Acknowledging the importance of energy transition could also speed up the process. Place-based identitiesPlanning accordingly, minimizing rivalries. The federal government could decide to stop naming specific areas of the ocean for offshore development after specific states.

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