Date of Award

Fall 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental and Sustainability Policy - (M.S.)

Department

Chemistry and Environmental Science

First Advisor

Maurie J. Cohen

Second Advisor

Michael P. Bonchonsky

Third Advisor

Gabriela Kutting

Abstract

This research presents a case study of renewable energy transition (RET) in Vermont, illustrated by a recently completed commercial wind project in the Lowell Mountains. Preliminary analysis maps out the current political landscape of Vermont’s RET – its stakeholders, political climate, and important policy advances. Subsequent analysis focuses on the relationship between RET and the unique aspects of Vermont’s institutions, culture, and communities. Important elements of this analysis include the ways that community groups form a vital link between citizens and the State, the unique opportunities and challenges presented by Vermont’s pastoral land perception and activist heritage, and the way that community support is contingent on broadly defined, transparent, democratically structured community participation. This research concludes by arguing that future RET efforts would benefit from considering similar institutional, cultural and community concerns; from developing more collaborative community models (including community ownership); and from fostering a sense of collective responsibility and participation in both local and regional initiatives.

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