Environmental Management

, Volume 51, Issue 5, pp 1012–1024 | Cite as

Different Shades of Green: A Case Study of Support for Wind Farms in the Rural Midwest

  • Kate K. Mulvaney
  • Patrick Woodson
  • Linda Stalker Prokopy


Benton County, in north-central Indiana, USA has successfully sited more than 500 turbines. To understand Benton County’s acceptance of wind farms, a holistic case study was conducted that included a document review, a survey of local residents and interviews with key stakeholders. Survey questionnaires were sent to 750 residents asking questions about attitudes toward the wind farms, perceived benefits and impacts from the wind farms, environmental attitudes, and demographic information. Key stakeholders were also interviewed for a deeper understanding of the historical timeline and community acceptance of the wind farm development. While there is limited opposition to the turbines, on the whole the community presents a front of acceptance. Financial, rather than environmental, benefits are the main reason for the acceptance. Although significant in other case studies, transparency and participation do not play a large role in Benton County’s acceptance. Most residents are not concerned with either visual impacts or noise from the wind turbines. More concrete benefits to the community, such as reduced energy bills for county residents, could help to extend acceptance even further within the community. Although there are concerns about the acceptance of wind farms and the impacts of those farms on local residents in both peer-reviewed literature and popular media, we found little evidence of those concerns in Benton County. Instead, we found Benton County to be a community largely accepting of wind farms.


Wind farm Social impact Renewable energy Midwestern landscape 



We are grateful to Chad Martin, John Lee, and the four key informants for their advice and insights on wind energy development in Benton County. We would also like to thank Purdue University’s Natural Resources Social Science Lab for their methodological assistance and guidance. Finally, we would like to thank Purdue University’s College of Agriculture for funding this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kate K. Mulvaney
    • 1
  • Patrick Woodson
    • 2
  • Linda Stalker Prokopy
    • 1
  1. 1.Forestry and Natural ResourcesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.Ecological Sciences and EngineeringPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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