|Abstract or Summary
- Despite widespread public support for renewable energy development, the siting of wind energy facilities can prove problematic due to opposition from surrounding communities. I propose a unifying framework to explain community response to wind energy development – showing how concepts from environmental sociology related to local biophysical and socioeconomic conditions shape the factors highlighted by social movement scholars as important for mobilization – perceptions of threat, political opportunity, and resources. I provide empirical evidence for the applicability of this framework via a comparative-case study of wind energy development in two neighboring Oregon counties along the Columbia River Gorge, Wasco and Sherman. Using relevant socioeconomic data, newspaper articles, and interviews with active stakeholders in each location, I show why and how the residents in sparsely-populated, wheat-growing Sherman County, facing dwindling economic prospects, came to view wind energy as a potential solution – another crop to be harvested – and banded together to successfully support such development. In contrast, particularly for one proposal along the Gorge, newer residents in Wasco County, many of whom had moved there to enjoy the beauty and natural amenities provided by its unique location, joined together with support from key allies to successfully oppose such development. My findings highlight the importance of contextual conditions in shaping community response to wind energy development proposals and suggest thoughtful consideration of these factors in the development and siting of such proposals.