Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation

5-2022

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M.S.

Department

Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies

Degree Program

Interdisciplinary Studies (Individualized Degree), MS

Committee Chair

Sluss, Tamara

Committee Member

LaJoie, Andrew Scott

Committee Member

Ruther, Matthew

Author's Keywords

renewable energy development; solar energy; Kentucky; sustainability; survey; citizen attitudes

Abstract

This study focuses on public attitudes and perceptions of renewable energy development strategy, solar energy, and climate change using a statewide survey in the 23 counties of Kentucky (KY) where solar developments have been installed or will be installed soon. Results indicate a that the public has a complex view of renewable energy development (RED) and how best an energy transition should be carried out, if at all. Solar RED was generally perceived positively by members of the public, with rooftop or household solar being stated as the preferred model of development. Citizens were most concerned over the visual impact of solar developments on the landscape, as well as its reliability as an energy source. Those who politically identified as Democrats had significantly less variation in response type than did Republican and third-party respondents. Responses from Democratic participants were more amenable to RED in general, whereas a higher level of concern and skepticism was expressed by other political party groups. Policymakers, state institutions, and developers should closely assess concerns at community-scale and adopt a more flexible strategy for design and configuration of developments. The future of RED in KY might benefit from state programs such as Community Choice or other decentralized development options for consumers.

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