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Will Offshore Energy Face “Fair Winds and Following Seas”?: Understanding the Factors Influencing Offshore Wind Acceptance

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Most offshore energy studies have focused on measuring or explaining people’s perceptions of, and reactions to, specific installations. However, there are two different types of acceptance: one surrounds the siting of projects while the other surrounds a more general acceptance of offshore energy. Understanding what drives this second type of acceptance is important as governments have implemented new financial incentives and policies to support renewable energy development; however, citizens and government officials may be increasingly opposed to some of these support mechanisms. Our paper fills a void in the literature by using regression approaches to better understand how people’s evaluations of the benefits and costs of offshore wind impact their level of general acceptance for offshore wind, while controlling for other factors (e.g., demographics). This analysis should help policy makers, and individuals attempting to educate the general public about renewable energy, to better understand the important factors influencing people’s support or opposition to offshore wind energy initiatives.

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  1. General acceptance has also been found to impact people’s opposition to specific projects (Johansson and Laike 2007).

  2. Incentives include tax reductions, grants and loans, and bonds; policies can include net metering allowance, solar and wind access laws, green power purchase requirements, and simplified or expedited permitting standards.

  3. National Wind Watch® disseminates information about the negative impacts of industrial-scale wind developments.

  4. Half of Maine’s net electricity generation is from renewable energy resources (EIA 2012).

  5. We focus on newspapers since more than 80 % of Maine residents (Anderson et al. 2012) and policymakers (Smith and Lindenfeld in press) get their energy information from newspapers.

  6. In a follow-up study, Firestone et al. (2012) illustrate the stability between acceptance and benefit/cost perceptions can vary; for example, over a 4-year period, the relationship between acceptance and the perception that wind farms will decrease electricity prices is relatively stable, while the relationship with perceived improvements in air quality changed.

  7. The sample frame was purchased from InfoUSA, which maintains a database containing information about 210 million US residents; see http// for more information about the frame.

  8. These items were presented as benefits or concerns in the survey; however, some respondent may not agree with our characterization (e.g., some may view increased tourism as a negative).

  9. INDEX is the same acceptance variable used in Thøgersen and Noblet (2012).

  10. Because studies find that increased distance positively influences attitudes toward wind power (Krueger et al. 2011; Bishop and Miller 2007), we included a variable measuring the distance the respondent lived from the coast; however, this variable was never significant and did not improve the model fit, so it was dropped from the final model.

  11. We dropped the marine recreation variables and two of the experience variables (VOTE, KNOW) as they were not significant; dropping them did not alter other results, the AIC values were lower and the model fit was unchanged.

  12. Recently, Maine’s Governor has used the increased prices argument to lobby against wind power development in the state (Miller 2012).

  13. Contact first author for full results.

  14. Results show that42% stated they supported “all wind power equally,” 29 % preferred deep-water offshore wind, 20 % preferred land-based wind, 6 % preferred shallow-water offshore wind, and 3 % stated they wanted “no wind power in Maine.”


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Funding was provided by the Maine Sustainability Solutions Initiative, the National Science Foundation Grant EPS-0904155 to Maine EPSCoR at the University of Maine, and the Maine Agriculture and Forest Experiment Station.

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Correspondence to Mario F. Teisl.

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Communicated by Wayne S. Gardner

Marrinan and Wibberly worked on this manuscript as former graduate students of the School of Economics, University of Maine. Manuscript contents do not reflect work at their current positions and have not been vetted by their current employers

Fair winds and following seas is a nautical good luck wish at the start of a new voyage (Morison 2012).

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Teisl, M.F., McCoy, S., Marrinan, S. et al. Will Offshore Energy Face “Fair Winds and Following Seas”?: Understanding the Factors Influencing Offshore Wind Acceptance. Estuaries and Coasts 38 (Suppl 1), 279–286 (2015).

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