Quality of Life Dynamics in Rural Renewable Power Communities

A journal called Energy Policy will soon publish my paper titled; Local Non-Market Quality of Life Dynamics in New Wind Farm Communities.   We know that renewable power generation (both solar panels and wind turbines) requires land.  It wouldn’t be efficient to transform Beverly Hills into wind farms even if it was a windy place.  Thus, much renewable power generation takes place far from our cities.  While this activity offers social benefits to society as reliance on power generated by fossil fuels declines, do the rural communities benefit?  Do the people there believe they benefit?  This matter because if there is a rural perception that wind turbines are noisy and ugly then this could slow down the renewable power build up.   In my empirical paper, I document three facts with my focus on wind turbines in West Texas.   First, few people actually live close to any of the turbines.  Second, in counties where turbines are built property taxes rates fall.  Third, in these same counties the public schools’ expenditure per pupil rises and the students per teacher ratio declines.  So, there is fiscal evidence of an improvement in local rural quality of life.

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