Abstract

Local opposition to wind turbines stems from concerns about environmental and economic damage, as well as conflicts between rural and urban residents. This essay goes beyond these considerations to explore the often-unarticulated explanations for animosity toward this energy technology. Originally, it posits that opposition to visually obvious turbines arises from the successful history of an electric utility system that made its product largely invisible in its manufacture and physical manifestation. The existence of conspicuous turbines, however, reminds observers that power generation requires difficult choices in a technology-based society. The system’s previous achievement in hiding infrastructural elements, in other words, sometimes works ironically to spur objections to wind turbines. Receiving little historical study, the concealed features of a system’s infrastructure often influence assessments of technologies. By revealing the previously invisible, this essay, which draws on research in history, landscape architecture, geography, and psychology, therefore provides insights for social scientists and policymakers.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1097-3729
Print ISSN
0040-165X
Pages
pp. 705-734
Launched on MUSE
2013-12-12
Open Access
No
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