Support for Solar Energy: Examining Sense of Place and Utility-Scale Development in California

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As solar costs have declined PV systems have experienced considerable growth since 2003, especially in China, Japan, Germany, and the U.S. Thus, a more nuanced understanding of a particular public's attitudes toward utility-scale solar development, as it arrives in a market and region, is warranted and will likely be instructive for other areas in the world where this type of development will occur in the near future. Using data collected from a 2013 telephone survey (N = 594) from the six Southern Californian counties selected based on existing and proposed solar developments and available suitable land, we examine public attitudes toward solar energy and construction of large-scale solar facilities, testing whether attitudes toward such developments are the result of sense of place and attachment to place. Overall, we have mixed results. Place attachment and sense of place fail to produce significant effects except in terms of perceived positive benefits. That is, respondents interpret the change resulting from large-scale solar development in a positive way insofar as perceived positive economic impacts are positively related to support for nearby large-scale construction.