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Wind turbines may be controversial in rural areas. Photo from Ruth Baranowski, NREL 16410

Unlike urban areas, rural areas can have more pristine visual environments. In some rural communities, wind turbines are perceived as an unwelcome intrusion in the otherwise wide-open skyline. Wind turbines may be controversial in these areas due to their potential impact on neighbors’ views. Responses to wind power are highly subjective. Some see wind energy as a symbol of technological advancement and energy independence, while others see new industrial development. Techniques exist to accurately portray and evaluate aesthetic impacts; such visual impact analyses can help local residents better understand exactly what a project might look like. Proper planning and avoidance of highly valued aesthetic areas is also important.[1]


American Planning Association. (2011). Planning for Wind Energy. Accessed April 15, 2016.
This report provides a detailed discussion of wind costs, incentives, impacts of economies of scale, and a cost comparison of electricity options.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County (for Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board). (June 2009). Steuben County Wind Turbine Viewshed Analysis. Accessed April 15, 2016.
This document identifies potential locations for wind development in Steuben County, New York. Although specific to that area, this report provides a good example of aspects to consider when preparing a report for another area.

Vissering, J.; Sinclair, M.; Margolis, A. (May 2011). A Visual Impact Assessment Process for Wind Energy Projects. Accessed April 15, 2016. Clean Energy States Alliance.
The purpose of this guide is to facilitate the adoption and use of effective state and local policies, practices, and methodologies to evaluate the visual impacts associated with wind development projects.


  1.  "American Planning Association. Planning for Wind Energy"