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Title:Co-operative or investor owned: how does the structure of the electric wind energy firm influence the effects of wind energy development on community development?
Author(s):Taylor, Keith
Director of Research:Summerfield, Gale
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Summerfield, Gale; Gasteyer, Stephen P.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Sullivan, William C.; Mooney, Patrick
Department / Program:Human & Community Development
Discipline:Human & Community Development
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):co-operative
renewable
wind
energy
electric
community
development
institutional analysis
design principles
Abstract:Wind energy has consistently grown at a rapid pace over the last decade, doubling in total installed wind energy capacity roughly every two and a half years. Community and economic development externalities of wind energy development are presumed to contribute to community wellbeing through market-based mechanisms. The scholarship on the interactions between wind energy firms and their host communities has yet to critically analyze these presumptions despite the extraordinary importance of energy governance and development in current affairs. The status quo continues to be advanced in public policy with little assessment of the community outcomes, nor of the consequence of privileging a given institutional model (the investor-owned utility) over robust alternatives (electric co-operatives). By ignoring the effects of organizational structure of wind energy firms, government energy policymakers may be missing an opportunity to enhance potential community development outcomes. Dominant theories of development –from the Wilsonian bureaucratic administrative approach to Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons- claim that development is optimized when external, elite, centralized actors govern. But recent work by Elinor Ostrom and the Bloomington School finds that in many instances community development is optimized when resources users from the local community govern themselves. What are the implications of applying Bloomington School policy to the wind energy sector? In order to address this, two questions are posed for analysis: How does wind energy development interact with community development? And what roles does the institutional model play in these interactions? Comparative case studies were performed of two ownership models of wind energy firms and their host communities: Ward County, North Dakota’s co-operative- owned PrairieWinds wind farm, and McLean County, Illinois’s investor-owned Twin Groves wind farm. The Bloomington School’s Institutional Analysis and Development Framework informed the methodological approach to understand how wind energy development and operations interact with local level community development, how the ownership model influences the actions of the utility, and how the systems of endogenous and exogenous governance influence the overall interaction. Fieldwork, interviews, and archival analyses were used to gather the data necessary to inform these questions. Findings indicate that the ownership model of the wind energy firm matters, namely that the co-operative firm exhibits a number of features conferring enhanced community development outcomes. In contrast to these findings, current wind energy development policy privileges absentee, private ownership and stewardship of wind energy resources. Public policy must allow for institutional diversity in order to guarantee optimal community development outcomes.
Issue Date:2013-08-22
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/45610
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Keith Taylor
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-08-22
2015-08-22
Date Deposited:2013-08


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