More companies are realizing that in order to move forward on their plans for creating wind energy, it is much easier to get buy-in from the local community.
There are a few ways to do this, but the best one seems to be in profit sharing. Often times it is difficult for locals to see their land being visually changed, without directly receiving the benefits of the change.
Wind farm developers, RES, in the UK decided to offer £100/yr to residents and those working within a 2 km radius of the wind turbines. This will affect approximately 270 properties in the area. The payback program is called LEDS (The Local Electricity Discount Scheme) and will provide more than £1 million over the lifetime of the wind farm.
A project manager for RES, Jon Knight, explains ‘LEDS is an exciting new form of community benefit which seeks to deliver direct and tangible benefits to people living and working closest to our wind farms in the form of a discount to their electricity bills.
“Feedback received from consultation with communities near both existing and potential development sites has highlighted that people feel cheaper electricity is a practical benefit RES could offer.’
Another company in the UK, RWE Npower renewables, has decided to hold public exhibition days in order to get feedback from locals about a proposed wind farm. The Cuckoo Wood wind farm is still in the very early stages of site testing, which will require another 3 years to determine suitability. However, the company feels strongly about working together with the community in a harmonious way.
Alice Byrne, from RWE Npower renewables said ‘“We are still at an early stage in the development process, therefore there is still an opportunity for us to consider views and suggestions during the design of the wind farm as far as is possible.
“We were also interested to hear some of the suggestions for how the community benefit fund could be spent if the wind farm is consented.
“We look forward to building on the contacts that we made on Saturday and to continuing to build a positive and open relationship with the local community.”
As we are moving more towards wind energy and other renewable energy sources, it is in the best interest of companies to work closely with communities. Especially since many anti-wind lobbyists are sharing misinformation, and causing a great deal of confusion for local residents of proposed wind farms.
What do you think about companies offering profit sharing and gathering input from local residents? Should this be the new standard? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.