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Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects
Balancing negative and positive environmental and socioeconomic impacts of wind energy.
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 to all three issues listed above. Decisions about the level of regulatory review should include procedures for ameliorating the disadvantages of a particular choice (e.g., 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.
Using an evaluation guide to organize regulatory review processes— such as the guide we have provided here—can help achieve comprehensive and consistent regulation, coordinated across jurisdictional levels and across types of effects.
Regulatory agencies should adopt and routinely use an evaluation guide in their reviews of wind-energy projects. The guide should be available to developers and the public.