Which way does the wind blow? Analysing the state context for renewable energy deployment in the United States

Miriam Fischlein, Andrea M. Feldpausch-Parker, Tarla R. Peterson, Jennie C. Stephens, Elizabeth J Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Wind power is an important low-carbon technology and the most rapidly growing renewable energy technology in the US, but there is significant state-by-state variation in wind power distribution. This variation cannot be explained solely by wind resource patterns or US state policy and points to the importance of both local and central governance. We outline the national context for wind deployment in the US and then explore the sub-national, state-level factors shaping wind deployment patterns. We probe the socio-political context across four US states by integrating multiple research methods. Through comparative state-level analysis of the energy system, energy policy, public discourse as represented in the media and state-level, energy policy stakeholders' perceptions we examine variation in the context for wind deployment in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana and Texas. Our results demonstrate that different patterns of wind deployment and different debates about wind power have emerged in each locale. Participants across the different states appear to frame the risks and benefits of wind power in significantly different ways. We discuss the impact of risks and benefit frames on energy policy outcomes. The comparative assessment highlights the complex interplay between central and local governance and explores the significant socio-political variation between states. The study contributes to the understanding of energy technology deployment processes, decision-making and energy policy outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-187
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironmental Policy and Governance
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014


  • Energy policy
  • Intergovernmental relations
  • Policy innovation
  • State policy
  • United States
  • Wind policy


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