Wind Turbines and Invisible Technology: Unarticulated Reasons for Local Opposition to Wind Energy

Group: Governance

Sergio Dominguez, Benjamin Beliveau, Molly Steinberg, Julia Jankowski


Dr. Benjamin K. Sovacool works as a researcher and consultant on issues mentioning energy policy, energy security, climate change mitigation, and climate change adaptation. He does research on renewable energy, energy efficiency, politics of large scale energy infrastructure, designing public policy around energy security and access, and adaptations towards climate change. He has contributed many works on the topic of energy and climate change. He also serves a Editor-in-Chief for the international peer-reviewed journal Energy Research & Social Science and peer reviews the works of more than 40 other journals. Professor Richard F. Hirsh researches the management of the American electric utility system and the history of rural electrictrification in the United States. He has posted more than 10 works around energy regulation and energy efficiency. Professor Hirsh also serves as an executive officer of the Society for the History of Technology, a group that encourage the study of the development of technology and its relations with society and culture. Dr. Sovacool has more of a focus of the application of the current technology for renewable resources while Professor Hirsh focuses on the relationship between technology and society and the history of that relationship.

The style of publication is a collection of essays and articles in a journal. This speaks to the purpose and audience for the essay by noting that anyone reading the journal are looking for evidence based information and opinions on topics in “Technology and Culture”. With that in mind, Hirsh’s essay builds strong opinions and provides strong evidence to support what he noticed, that there is lots of local opposition to having a wind turbine in one’s backyard. This essay fits into the themes of the other pieces in the journal that are also credible sources which gives him credibility.

The main argument in this article is that most people do not understand their use of electricity, where it comes from, or how it is produced. It also highlights the different opinions of wind turbines and how they are good and bad for the environment. Because of the way electricity is used today, the majority of people are unable to understand their use of energy and correlate that to the cost and process for that energy to reach them. We simply plug items into the wall, use a switch to turn on the heat, and then pay the electricity bill weeks later and never know exactly what that energy costs (in money or the toll on the environment). The author also discusses different opinions on turbines as a generator of electricity. They are good for the environment because they do not create air pollution and generate energy from a renewable resource (wind). However, many dislike wind turbines because they are placed into areas of nature and are thought to ruin the rural environment. Others do not like wind turbines because they have been known to kill birds and bats that fly into the area. Others still simply dislike the way the turbines look. These are all reasons why more turbines are not built and used as an alternative energy generation method.

The paper is written with lots of factual evidence to back up the claims made. The author states a claim and then proceeds to use gallup polls to back up the claims that “71 percent of americans think more wind power should be used.” The essay also includes several sources, when any information is used to the scholarly article and source it came from. By using other sources with detailed information it backs any and all the information. The statistics about percentages of Americans that believe certain things and values of money and power are all backed by specific information with the source it came from. Due to having all information backed with sources it makes the article credible.

This essay differs from other essays and works assigned in a class by focusing more on the people and their positives and negatives view of a subject. Most of the articles assigned have a certain viewpoint and message it is trying to convey. By focusing on the people and their views on wind turbines and other technology provides greater insight. Oftentime textbooks and other sources do not provide both sides or do not the source of their information as readily as this essay does.

This work inspires new research questions like how can politicians, environmentalists, and companies entice neighborhoods to implement wind turbines and renewable energy resources. The hardest part is making the first step where people finally see the positive side to renewable energy and therefore the list of cons becomes irrelevant. Next steps that could be implemented into new research questions could be how to find more of a middle ground between communities and the companies who are trying to put a wind turbine in place. A middle ground such as diminishing the sound and light flares which usually bother people the most.


Hirsh, Richard F., and Benjamin K. Sovacool. “Wind Turbines and Invisible Technology:

Unarticulated Reasons for Local Opposition to Wind Energy.” Oral History Review,

Oxford University Press, 12 Dec. 2013,

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