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Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0910-4474

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Regional Planning

Year Degree Awarded

2019

Month Degree Awarded

September

First Advisor

Henry Rnski

Second Advisor

Elisabeth Hamin Infield

Third Advisor

Erin D. Baker

Subject Categories

Urban Studies and Planning

Abstract

Wind power development has rapidly expanded in the United States. Much of this growth occurred in rural areas because of the availability of land and wind resources required to power turbines. The economic promise of wind power projects is particularly appealing for rural areas whose traditional economic base (typically agricultural) no longer supports as many households as it once did. Numerous studies have found that wind power projects have positive economic impacts on rural areas. What is less well understood is the effect of these wind power farms on other indicators of development, such as municipal services, demographic change, and quality of life. This dissertation examined the effects of wind power development on the economy, society, and community services in rural counties in the United States. The dissertation utilizes a mixed-methods approach, including both statistical analyses of secondary data, as well as the analysis of primary data collected through interviews.

I use two longitudinal data analysis models, mixed effect model and fixed effect model with a quasi-experimental approach, to measure the net economic and demographic impacts of wind development on rural counties. The primary data addressed the effects of substantial wind development on eleven rural counties when they hosted substantial wind farms over 1000 MW.

The results of the statistical analysis show a small significant effect of wind development on rural economies in term of increasing per capita income, median household income, farm income, and per capita employment. It also has a significant effect on decreasing the poverty rate.

Results of the primary data analysis show that wind power development increased the tax revenue of the rural community without any required public services or increases in population size of the rural communities. I find that counties with larger populations benefit more from wind development, particularly during the construction phase. Substantial wind development leads to an increase in municipal finances of rural counties. This increase has been reflected in improvements on the community services without any negative social impacts. Wind development is a suitable economic source to diversify the rural economy.

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