Conclusion

The environmental benefits of wind energy, mainly reductions in atmospheric pollutants, are enjoyed at wide spatial scales, while the environmental costs, mainly aesthetic impacts and ecological impacts such as increased mortality of birds and bats, occur at much smaller spatial scales. There are similar, if less dramatic, disparities in the scales of occurrence of economic and other societal benefits and costs. The disparities in scale, while not unique to wind energy, complicate the evaluation of tradeoffs.

Recommendation

Representatives of federal, state, and local governments should work with wind-energy developers, non-governmental organizations, and other interest groups and experts to develop guidelines for addressing tradeoffs between benefits and costs of wind-energy generation of electricity that occur at widely different scales, including life-cycle effects.



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