It's very difficult to predict the economic impact of any kind of change and the construction of an industrial wind facility is no different. But in September 2009, Appraisal Group One of Wisconsin published its Wind Turbine Impact Study which quotes a number of relevant studies done in the UK. We are greatly indebted to them as much of the following material comes from that document.
First Wind and wind proponents are constantly telling us about all the fantastic economic benefits we can expect. While some of what they saymay betrue for a select group, we have to recognize that there will be economic losses as well. The question we have to ask ourselves is: "Do the short term benefits that accrue largely to the developer outweigh the long term costs borne largely by the host community?"
Because our local economy depends on the allure of our land to attract visitors, we have to be very concerned about the project's impact on tourism. Our economic viability and vitality is inextricably
linked with the maintaining a healthy, attractive and irreplaceable wilderness
appeal. At the moment nothing threatens this appeal more than the Bowers Mtn Project.
Page 60 of the Wind Turbine Impact Study states:
“Rural tourism is big business in the UK (worth app. $26.7 billion) and supports up to
800,000 jobs. In a 2006 study, the UK’s Small Business Council examined the impact wind farms
would have on small businesses—specifically those dependent on rural tourism. They found
that 75% of visitors say the quality of the landscape and countryside is the most important
factor in choosing a destination. Between 47% and 75% of visitors felt that wind turbines
damage the landscape quality. Of the three areas they studied, they found that 11% of visitors
would avoid the first area, resulting in a loss of $48.5 million and 800 jobs. Approximately 7%
of visitors would not return to the second area, resulting in a loss of $117 million and 1,753
jobs. In the third area, just 5% would stay away, but its lost affluence would result in $668.5
million lost along with 15,000 jobs. In some areas, 49% of all sectors of rural businesses
experienced a negative impact.
In a separate tourist area of the UK, five wind farms are proposed totaling 71 turbines
along 18 miles. In a pilot survey of 1,500 visitors, the Council found that approximately 95% of
the visitors said wind turbines would spoil their enjoyment of the landscape. And this spoiling
directly translates into less business from tourism and lost jobs.
They studied another tourist area in the UK, and found that two-thirds of local
businesses said turbines are visually intrusive. While 54% thought wind turbines would increase
their ‘green’ credentials, 27% believed it would still have a negative impact on the tourism industry by reducing visitor numbers. After the details of the tower heights were revealed the
next year, the 27% grew to 39% who felt the 400-foot-high turbines would make visitors stop
In North Devon, an area renowned for its beauty, a before-and-after survey was
conducted to gauge visitors’ feelings toward possible wind farms. Before details of their 300’
height were revealed, 34% were generally favorable and 66% unfavorable towards turbines.
After the size and location of the turbine proposals was revealed, the number of ‘unfavorable’
visitors rose to 84%. When asked if wind farms would affect their choice of holiday destination,
less than 50% claimed that they would still choose North Devon. A further 39% said they would
choose North Devon but subject to the size and location of the wind farms. Eleven percent
would completely avoid North Devon.
Scotland is also proposing wind farms, but a visitor survey found that 15% of visitors
would not return if wind turbines are built – resulting in a potential loss of $133.7 million and
Tourists don’t want to pay to look at wind turbines, but wind
supporters claim the turbines themselves will become an attraction and boost tourism. However, the Maine Tourism Bureau says they have no literature promoting wind facilities and none of their literature even hosts a photo of wind turbines. The
wind industry tried making them attractions in the UK, and failed. In 1999, a visitors’
center was built in Norfolk, UK – then home to one of the largest turbines in the world. It ran
out of money and closed in 2002. Then in 2001, a $9.1 million visitor center was built with
hopes of attracting 150,000 annual visitors to its wind farm. Despite opening to much publicity
it attracted less than one tenth of the projected visitors, and it went bankrupt. Its CEO said, “Sadly,
just like many eco-attractions, they’re not sustainable; there’s just not enough interest.”
Maine’s scenic mountains are identified in a recent study by the Brookings Institute as a key component of Maine’s “Quality of Place”, and essential to the health of its tourist economy. As a result of its horrific scenic impact, the Bowers Mtn/Dill Ridge Project will cost us dearly. Businesses that rely on the lakes tourism, guides, lodges, sporting camps, small store owners, etc. throughout the watershed area will suffer. Jobs will definitely be lost.