Project Description: 

What explains variation in local and state-level political support for wind farms in the US? While the literature in political science in particular points to the role of partisanship in renewable energy support, most wind farms in the US are located in more conservative “red states”. Since the first wind farms were built in California in early 1980s, wind farms diffused in the US especially in the rural areas of the Great Plains all the way through Texas, which came to benefit from wind energy as an economic development model. With the recent regulatory and federal investment push towards renewables and increasing competitiveness of wind energy vis-a-vis fossil fuel generation; issues related to local opposition and permitting are now at the center of effective clean energy policy, as well as other political and economic incentives to scale up renewable energy generation in different states. Understanding the variation between local attitudes toward wind power and state level political support in different states is crucial in answering several other questions at the intersection of politics, society and renewable energy technologies in an era when building renewable energy infrastructure is increasingly dependent on sub-national levels of regulation. The project aims to contribute to the literature on state-level energy politics, and to develop several policy recommendations for wind energy developers, as well as local and state governments in revising their permitting processes and drawing maximum benefit from wind farms for their local communities.

Undergraduate's Role: 

We are seeking to hire several students. The students would primarily collect various data from several media and governmental sources, identify relevant stakeholders including industry actors, local and environmental organizations and local/state governments, and write case study memos. Primarily: 1) historical local news from the LexisNexis media database on wind farm development processes in California,Texas and Wyoming; 2) local and state level news on the support for and opposition to wind energy infrastructure; 3) historical government resources on broader state-level energy policies that affect renewable energy generation in the same three states. The students then would be expected to write case study analyses on the local/state politics and wind energy nexus. Beyond these case studies, one student would ideally be equipped to clean transcript and news data using Python and conduct exploratory computational text analysis.

Undergraduate's Qualifications: 

Some level of prior training in one or several fields of social sciences, economic development, environmental or climate policy is necessary. A keen interest in learning about local political context and state-level environmental politics is preferred. Please highlight your relevant coursework in your application, as well as specific data analysis and methodological skills. It would also be helpful to know how many hours per week, and which weeks during Summer you would like to work on the project.

To be negotiated