Central leg of NIMBY platform takes a hit as Department of Energy study finds property values unaffected by presence of commercial wind farms.
Economists at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have found no conclusive evidence of the existence of any widespread property value impacts in communities surrounding wind energy facilities. According to the new report (pdf) neither the view of the wind facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities has any "consistent, measurable, and statistically significant effect on home sales prices."
The team of economists led by Ben Hoen, Ryan Wiser and Peter Cappers of LBNL, along with Mark Thayer of San Diego State University and Gautam Sethi of Bard College, employed a hedonic model like those used by real estate professionals to estimate the marginal contribution of individual house or community characteristics to sales prices.
The DOE-sponsored study examined 7,500 single-family property sales between 1996 and 2007 in order to record values from before the announcement of a wind energy facility to a period after it was built and operating.
"Although the analysis cannot dismiss the possibility that individual homes or small numbers of homes have been or could be negatively impacted, it finds that if these impacts do exist, they are either too small and/or too infrequent to result in any widespread, statistically observable impact," write the report's authors.
Wind energy industry welcomes report findings
Although the amount of electricity supplied to the U.S. grid from wind power projects remains a relatively low 2%, many expect that percentage will will rise and that wind energy could contribute a significant percentage of future electricity supply. Most recently, President Obama, in his 2009 State of the Union address, called for a doubling of renewable energy in three years (by 2012). In 2008 the U.S. Department of Energy produced a report that analyzed the feasibility of meeting 20% of U.S. electricity demand with wind energy by 2030.
To meet these goals, a significant amount of wind project development activity would be required. According to the paper, if the average size of wind power projects built in the U.S. in 2007 and 2008 was approximately 100 MW and the total amount of capacity required to reach 20% wind electricity is roughly 300,000 MW, to achieve 20% wind electricity by 2030, a total of 3,000 wind facilities may need to be sited and permitted. And that creates the potential for lots of land use conflicts, especially if there is a misconception about property values.
“The conclusions of this study could not be more definitive—wind farms do not weaken property values," said American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode in a written statement on Wednesday. "These important research findings offer good news for those communities that might be considering the location of wind farms nearby. Wind energy has multiple benefits: it creates jobs, reduces greenhouse gases, and delivers direct economic benefits to rural communities. Now we can also say that wind energy has no impact on property values.”
The release of the study comes as Massachusetts-based electric provider National Grid announced its intention to negotiate a purchase agreement for the electricity produced by Cape Wind, the proposed offshore wind farm. The project, which will be the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. should it gain approval, has been opposed by NIMBY interests often citing aesthetic concerns and the negative impact the turbines will have on the local economy.
People clearly have mixed feelings about having wind turbines in their viewshed and dotting local landscapes and the issue is a polarizing one, to say the least. What do you think? How would you feel about having a wind farm as a neighbor?