2013-09-06

Co.Exist

Relax, Living Near A Wind Turbine Won't Hurt Your Real Estate

Time to abandon your NIMBYism: Your back yard is a totally fine place for wind power.

Some have suggested that naming hurricanes after climate-deniers would give anti-science efforts a dose of reality. But if science is the general enemy of the climate-denier lobby, then renewable energy—wind turbines, in particular—has become one of the movement's priority targets.

Last year, an internal memo from an American Tradition Institute (ATI) fellow leaked by the Guardian revealed a set of strategies to take down the wind industry, one of which was to "sue for property value loss to small land holders" and "use all legal cases to create media poster child effect." A new Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study using data from 2012 shows that this strategy might not bear fruit: Across 50,000 home sales in 27 counties in nine states, researchers found zero evidence that average home prices were affected by wind turbines nearby.

The 2013 study collected more data than the previous two, looking at homes within 10 miles of the 67 turbine facilities and examining 1,198 sales within a mile of them. Noting that wind production capacity is expected to grow by some 2,750 turbines a year, likely in New York, New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest, researchers wondered if turbines might create similar problems for home values as living near a new power line or landfill has demonstrated in the past.

Nope.

Perhaps the Windstrument, a new design for a wind turbine, could actually raise property values?

"Across all model specifications, we find no statistical evidence that home prices near wind turbines were affected in either the post-construction or post-announcement/preconstruction periods," researchers found. "Therefore, if effects do exist, either the average impacts are relatively small (within the margin of error in the models) and/or sporadic (impacting only a small subset of homes)."

As for why turbines didn't cause upset in the housing market, the study authors pointed to evidence that wind turbines might actually have positive qualities that set them apart from landfills, power lines, and noisy roads. Other studies have shown that wind facilities can bolster local government budgets through property tax payments, which in turn benefit local schools. And unlike coal-fired power plants, wind facilities don't spew greenhouse gases and pollutants that can sicken communities.

Willful misinformation about renewable energy might aid a "nocebo effect" when it comes to wind turbine syndrome symptoms, but it appears that the housing market remains staunchly unmoved. Maybe it's time to revise the anti-wind memo?

[Image: Turbines via Shutterstock]

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2 Comments

  • Pingston

    This is a ridiculous claim to make. The study is left undissected, including the connection of its sponsor to governments, turbine makers, and others who have an interest in perpetrating the imposition of wind turbines and their litany of issues on an unsuspecting public. In addition, it totally avoids the evidence from places where wind turbines have devastated property values (see South Western Ontario where the government is pushing 480-foot wind turbines on local communities by scrapping their local planning powers and centralizing approvals in provincial capital of Toronto).

    It's also unfortunate to see Fast Company's good name besmirched by association with such an article headline.

    Without huge government subsidies, wind turbines are not cost-effective. That alone reduces  property values or raises taxes, the same effect. But the problems are more widespread and transcend aesthetics. Noise, both sub-sonic and within the normal spectrum, ruin the night. Wind turbines have been plagued by lubrication issues which are exacerbated by high wind gusts which overwhelm the mechanisms. The resulting turbine fires in multiple countries have created 480-foot torches spraying flame and sparks in high wind (which caused the problem) through fields and neighborhoods typically not manned by emergency equipment able to battle a 48-story fire... Then there's the issue of 200-foot blades detaching and flying through the air during fires or other catastrophic failures. Economically, of course, wind turbines produce most of their juice when it isn't needed, something not true of solar power. And if either were paid the going rate paid to traditional producers, we would likely see much fewer of each

    Want to see the real-world costs? Don't rely on fixed surveys. Talk to people sickened by them. Don't demean people with NIMBY labels.

  • Yugo Cherov

    If I have a wind turbine a mile away from me I would not care.
    If I have a wind turbine a half a mile away from me I would not care.
    If I have a wind turbine a quarter of a mile away I may start to care.
    If I have a wind turbine within 500 feet of me I would definitely care.
    If I have a wind turbine within 250 feet of me, oh heck no.

    The study used 1,198 sales within a mile of a turbine. Now the demographics of an area with wind turbines come into play, but I would be more so curious how many wind turbines were within a quarter of a mile of a home sale.

    Regardless, one would think it would be pretty easy to build wind turbines away from housing given the massive amount of land in the United States. More wind power is definitely better, I just have a problem with the study's sample. ;-)