Wind Power Visual Impact Mitigation Study

$2500 available. Hours are flexible and can be worked out between successful candidate and AMC manager; the work week and hours per week can vary but should average 15 -20 hours/week for approximately 12 weeks between Oct 1 and December 31, 2012. Additional $550 available to offset project expenses (e.g. travel, software, data and other expenses). Free AMC membership for a year and seasonal lodging benefits during tenure of the Project. A team of students working on this project would be considered with flexibility to modify the funding arrangement.

Location (flexible): AMC’s 5 Joy Street, Boston, MA; AMC’s Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, NH or independently on student’s college campus with periodic interactions with AMC Research Staff.

Reporting Relationship: Research Department(located at AMC’s Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, Gorham, NH)

Project Tenure: October 1 – December 31, 2012

Project: The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) seeks an intern or student research team to research how the visible impact of terrestrial wind turbine towers could be mitigated. Wind power is a viable source of renewable energy in the Northeast. Higher ridgelines are particularly valuable for wind power development due to their stronger wind resource, allowing for the use of larger turbines and providing a higher capacity factor. Current favorable tax credits, state renewable portfolio standards and other public incentives and subsidies will increase the pressure to develop these most “wind rich” sites into extensive ridgeline wind farms in the northeastern US. These topographically higher elevations are the most natural remaining parts of the landscape and are prominently visible for considerable distances away. Wind turbines now reach 500 feet in height and towers higher than 200 feet are required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be visibly prominent with both lighting and white reflective tower coloration for aircraft safety. These structures visual impact can reach out 20 or more miles on the landscape. This has given rise to nighttime light pollution at the landscape scale and a dominant daytime industrial appearance to ridgelines, which has created considerable public concern.

Newer on-site radar based warning technologies that detect approaching planes are being reviewed by the FAA that could reduce the need for warning lighting to just the times when a plane is detected as approaching a wind farm. Similar these radar technologies offer the potential to use tower and blade coloration that subdues their visible impact to less than the reflective and highly visible white now required by the FAA.

AMC seeks a student intern or student research team to model what tower and blade colors and/or patterns would aesthetically best subdue the daytime visible impact of wind turbines in the northeast. This would include computer and photo simulations of different tower and turbine colors and/or patterns to determine what colors or patterns would visibly be least prominent from New England ridgelines during different seasons and weather conditions.

The AMC promotes the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the mountains, forests, waters, and trails of the Appalachian region. We believe these resources have intrinsic worth and also provide recreational opportunities, spiritual renewal, and ecological and economic health for the region. Because successful conservation depends on active engagement with the outdoors, we encourage people to experience, learn about, and appreciate the natural world. AMC’s Research Department advances the organization’s mission through science based research.

  • Research FAA regulations on tower coloration and other visibility requirements.
  • Review wind project application photo simulations and photographically record in the field actual wind power turbine visibility at existing wind farms.
  • Use computer photo simulations to test what colors and/or patterns would make wind turbines less visible on the landscape.
  • Prepare a report on what color and/or patterns would make wind power turbines least visible on the landscape.
  • Enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program in the environmental sciences, architecture, engineering or landscape design or related field of study.
  • An understanding of digital cameras and ability to do computer photo simulations that best mimic natural conditions.
  • An understanding of how color and patterns blend in with or become dominant relative to the surrounding background and landscape viewshed.
  • Ability to do internet searches for information.
  • Creative approach to problem solving.
  • Ability to synthesize results into a quality report.
  • Interest in protecting the environment through a problem solving approach.
  • Well-organized, accurate, self-motivated, and able to perform a variety of tasks both independently and in a team environment.
  • Should have or access to a digital camera (SLR preferred), computer and software with photo simulation capabilities.
  • Ability to travel to a wind power site in New England for first hand observation experience.

To Apply: Submit a cover letter, resume, and contact information for two references electronically to

Applications will be considered until the position is filled, with priority given to applications received by September 14th. No phone calls, please.

The AMC is an equal opportunity employer and is actively recruiting a diverse workforce. We encourage the involvement of all people in our mission and activities, through our membership, programs, policies, and procedures. Our goal is to be a community that is comfortable, inviting, and accessible for people of any age, gender, race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status