By George Harvey
On January 9, a report was published, called Relationship between Wind Turbines and Residential Property Values in Massachusetts. It is a product of a joint effort by the University of Connecticut and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The report examines 122,000 home sales over a period between 1998 and 2012. The wind farms it covers include 26 that are already operating and 15 others. It considers a number of factors, including the sounds of wind turbines and shadow flickers that some people find objectionable.
It also considers a number of other things homes could be near, comparing these things to wind farms. We can compare other nearby features with wind farms and get a sense of which is better or worse for property values. For example, a person might ask how having a nearby wind farm might compare with having a landfill or superhighway nearby. Or on the other hand we might wonder how it compares with having nearby open land, such as a park, or a beach. The report addresses these questions.
There were 41 wind turbines specifically considered in the study. The report focused on single-family dwellings within five miles of them. A particularly important aspect of this report is that Massachusetts is very densely populated. Nearly all previous studies and considered rural settings. In Massachusetts, many or most of the homes were in urban and suburban homes.
The report also considered the variations in price as they related to the state of construction or operation of the wind farm. Prices were tracked from before the time the wind farm was first proposed, to the point that people had been able to experience what it was like to have a wind farm nearby.
The results of the study are very interesting. One thing worthy of note is that an immediate effect of the announcement of a coming wind farm is a very slight drop in property values. As the process of permitting, construction, and operation of the wind farm progresses, the property value typically recovers. In the end, the evidence, though not considered statistically significant, is that there is a slight increase in property values from nearby wind installations.
An increase in property values should not come as a surprise. Earlier studies have, in general, shown similar results. We have seen at least ten studies that were carefully done by competent, neutral organizations. Only one of these shows a very slight drop in property values, though the cause of this was not clearly associated with wind turbines. Seven others show no appreciable change. Three show a possible to probable slight increase in property values near wind farms.
There is a reason why wind farms might increase property values. They pay taxes, but require very little in the way of municipal services, and this can reduce taxes, depending on how a state or municipality’s property tax system where a project is located is set up.
We are unaware of any study that showed a marked drop in property values resulting from construction of a nearby wind farm.