“Wind farms vs. property values” – join the discussion.

An interesting interchange about the impact of industrial wind on property values courtesy of the Missouri Ruralist . Join in the discussion at the link!

Blog post begins:

Wind Farms vs. Property Values
Posted on December 14, 2009 at 2:03 PM
While pictures of windmills make great bumper stickers, the prospect of having a horizon full of actual wind turbines pop up in front of your picture window might have you worried about property values. A new study says “Don’t be!”

The Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory just released a study showing proximity to wind energy facilities does not have a “pervasive or widespread adverse effect” on the property values of nearby homes.

The study, which LBNL says is the most comprehensive and data-rich analyses to date on the potential impact of U.S. wind projects on residential property values, looked at 7,500 home sales near wind farms. Researchers studied homes located within 10 miles of 24 existing wind farms in nine states; the closest home was 800 feet from a turbine.

Each home was visited to collect on-site material (as in, “Are wind turbines visible?”) Sales from 1996 to 2007 were analyzed over a period from the wind project’s announcement to well after its completion and full-scale operation.

Consultant Ben Hoen, who worked with LBNL on the project, said: “Neither the view of wind energy facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities was found to have any consistent, measurable, and significant effect on the selling prices of nearby homes.

“No matter how we looked at the data, the same result kept coming back — no evidence of widespread impacts.”

That said, we’d like to hear from any of you who have had negative or positive effects from new wind installations in your area. Send your comments to: dcrummett@farmprogress.com.

Posted by d. crummett on December 17 at 9:06 AM

Dear Dan:

Thank you for your piece on the LBNL study that evaluates the impact of wind turbines on property values. My organization was one of the 20 or so reviewers of the study. You might be interested in the time line for the Hoen report.

In 2006, Ben Hoen completed a master thesis that looked at the impact of the Fenner NY wind turbines on surrounding properties values. His thesis can be found here: http://www.windaction.org/documents/3236 .

Within months of obtaining his masters, Hoen and Wiser teamed up, and since June 2007 Hoen has been broadcasting the results of this latest study even though no data or information on the study was available for others to read and challenge. In the two years leading up to the December 2 release, Hoen distributed his findings to largely friendly crowds and those more interested in the outcome of his study than the legitimacy of his methodology.

Our comments as submitted to Hoen can be read here: http://www.windaction.org/documents/24178 . We worked closely with an appraiser experienced in regression analysis and hedonics in developing our comments. Given the flaws in Hoen’s approach, we are confident that a qualified appraiser with experience in regression techniques and the problems of hedonic analysis will effectively counter Hoen’s conclusion. You may be interested to know that neither Hoen or the others who were part of his research team have any experience in real estate appraisals or the correct application of regression techniques for determining house value.

Lisa Linowes

executive director


Posted by d. crummett on December 16 at 3:41 PM

This from a Chicago-based real estate appraiser who has dealt with wind-energy installations and property values:

Dear Dan:.

I have pretty extensive experience in evaluating wind farms from a real estate value and land use (zoning standards) compatibility perspective, and am fairly well versed on many other issues. However, I do not claim to be an acoustic engineer, medical expert, bird expert, etc. On other real estate valuation cases, I have qualified as an expert witness and testified in court and zoning hearings in 20 states, about 200 times, in both state and federal courts over the last 20 years.

With wind farm matters, I have worked on behalf of neighboring home owners and some (non-participating) land owners on 8 projects thus far, and have consulted with concerned residents of perhaps a dozen other projects.  I have also testified at the zoning hearings on these (8) matters, and have reported my findings to the various County Board and ZBA representatives:  25% property value reductions in the “footprint” of the projects and up to about 1 mile out, in some cases.

Dr. Nina Pierpont is an M.D. who is heavily involved and experienced in evaluating medical issues.  Her recommendation is that turbines should be sited at least 2 miles (or is it 1.5 miles + ?) from the nearest dwelling.  This recommendation comports pretty well with property value impact avoidance as well.  Rick James is an acoustic engineer based in Michigan I have worked with, who is very well versed on noise issues and standards.

The LBNL study (see Figure ES-1) shows a 5% reduction in values within 1 mile of the projects, and that is based upon the LBNL report author’s statistical analysis of 128 sales in that particular distance zone. The author’s claim that is “statistically insignificant”, but admit to me that they believe there are some impacts…just not significant from a statistical analysis perspective (under the parameters they selected).  The report, however, leads the reader to a different conclusion.  My review takes exception with that disproportionate relevance, and I will forward that document to you shortly.

I can assure you, the impacts that the nearest people claim are real, and not just “NIMBY” extremists opposed to everything. I have spoken with residents who are experiencing the sleep deprivation and agitation from the vibro-acoustic effect of living near the turbines.  Industry, of course, minimizes all such complaints and claims there is no scientific proof.  Click the link at the top of the “primer” I emailed to you, and you will see reams of information and study results that pretty well confirm how disingenuous developer claims and dismissal of neighbors’ complaints really are.

I am not anti-wind energy, mind you.  I just firmly believe the rush to meet renewable energy goals is resulting in numerous mistakes, the price for which is being and will continue to be paid by existing residents who do not have the financial resources to fully investigate the issues, and have their rights and interests represented on a “level field” with the deep-pocket developers.  I am in business to make money too, but I pro-bono cut my normal rate in half for the citizens groups, in order to help level that very field.  My review of the LBNL report is not on behalf of any client, and the work was completed for no compensation.  For whatever its relevance, the LBNL study cost $500,000, per media reports.


Michael S. McCann
McCann Appraisal, LLC
Chicago, Illinois

Blog post ends.

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