be implemented at scales ranging from state and regional levels to local levels. Anticipatory planning for wind-energy development also would help researchers to target their efforts where they will be most informative for future wind-development decisions.
Choosing the level of regulatory authority for reviewing wind-energy proposals carries corresponding implications for how the following issues are addressed:
cumulative effects of wind-energy development;
balancing negative and positive environmental and socioeconomic impacts of wind energy; and
incorporating public opinions into the review process.
In choosing the levels of regulatory review of wind-energy projects, agencies should review the implication of those choices for all three issues listed above. Decisions about the level of regulatory review should include procedures for ameliorating the disadvantages of a particular choice (for example, enhancing opportunities for local participation in state-level reviews).
Well-specified, formal procedures for regulatory review enhance predictability, consistency, and accountability for all parties to wind-energy development. However, flexibility and informality also have advantages, such as matching the time and effort expended on review to the complexity and controversy associated with a particular proposal; tailoring decision criteria to the ecological and social contexts of a particular proposal; and fostering creative interactions among developers, regulators, and the public to find solutions to wind-energy dilemmas.
When consideration is given to formalizing review procedures and specifying thresholds for decision criteria, this consideration should include attention to ways of retaining the advantages of more flexible procedures.