R/22-24-NESGR-Leslie: Building capacity for participatory approaches to community resilience and ocean renewable energy siting

Heather Leslie
University of Maine

To successfully site ocean renewable energy in the US Northeast, we need to know how values and beliefs influence people’s responses to ocean renewable energy development and how those values and beliefs differ by place. Yet limited baseline social data exists to support states, developers, and communities to understand where ORE technology is a good fit for people and place. Therefore, we propose to identify and characterize the values and beliefs that influence social acceptance of ocean renewable energy.

Our goal is to promote place-specific ocean renewable energy development in Downeast Maine, and to develop and pilot engagement methods and practices that support robust public participation in ocean renewable energy decision-making. To this end, the specific project objectives are:

  1. to identify and characterize values and beliefs that influence social acceptance of ocean renewable energy;
  2. to determine ‘place-technology fit’ for three communities in Downeast Maine; and
  3. to develop a Community ORE Toolkit that can be used in communities throughout the northeastern US and beyond to identify, assess, and measure place-technology fit in the context of community climate resilience.

Since process is critical to the renewable energy transition, we focus on participatory methods to disseminate information. We will engage with three focal communities in Downeast Maine using interviews and focus groups to coproduce surveys, geospatial maps, and a toolkit. These products, along with community-driven participatory processes, will measure social acceptance of ORE and determine ‘place-technology’ fit for the three communities. Indicators of acceptance will include place attachment, place and social identities, demographics, and energy system beliefs. The toolkit can be replicated in other places to collect additional data and support engaged and transparent public participation.

Sea Grant funds: $138,132

This project is funded through a partnership between the Northeast Sea Grant Consortium, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office and Water Power Technologies Office, and NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, to advance social science and technology research for the coexistence of offshore energy with Northeast fishing and coastal communities.