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Wind Turbines and Property Values: More Information from a Massachusetts Study

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More information has come from the authors of a recent wind-turbines-and-property-values study of Massachusetts via a webinar and related Q&A. The answers continue to point to room for additional studies, but reiterate the positive findings: “The results do not support the claim that wind turbines affect nearby home prices.”

The new study, from the University of Connecticut and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), is the latest in a series of interesting works on this topic involving experts at LBNL. The recent webinar (slides here) included additional information about the approach they used (hedonic modeling), and what the data show. And it ended with this reiteration of their main findings:

The webinar, sponsored by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, a funder of the study, also served as a focal point for questions from the host of attendees (including me), on a whole range of aspects. That interaction yielded a supplement to the original FAQ page, in the form of answers to those additional questions — on issues such as why the study focused on turbines above 600 kilowatts, how non-statisticians like us should read the results, and how attitudes toward wind turbines might have changed over the study period.

Future directions

The authors are careful to point out that the study doesn’t say — and wasn’t configured to say — what has happened in particular locations. There were several questions to which the answer was that the study calculated “only the average effect across all facilities (and therefore all neighborhoods [or wind regimes])…”

In the report itself they suggest that as one area of potential future study, saying that “it might be fruitful to analyze impacts portioned by sales price or neighborhood to discover whether the effects vary with changes in these factors.”

More of these carefully researched studies, more solid information, and more on-the-ground experiences would certainly be welcome. Those are key inputs to help us figure out how more wind power can help us fight climate change, beef up our energy security, and usefully re-shape our energy mix for a brighter future.

For now, more information about the work that has already been done is welcome indeed.

Posted in: Energy Tags: ,

About the author: John Rogers is a senior energy analyst with expertise in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies and policies. He co-manages the Energy and Water in a Warming World Initiative (EW3) at UCS that looks at water demands of energy production in the context of climate change. He holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and a bachelor's degree from Princeton University. See John's full bio.

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4 Responses

  1. Marie Jane says:

    I said “environment” might be an issue to address later. Later has arrived. As a Scientist, can you prove that this and human health issues are not an issue?

    Wind farms vs wildlife – The shocking environmental cost of renewable energy

    February 6, 2014 ENGO, Offshore Wind/Industrialization

    Wind farms are devastating populations of rare birds and bats across the world, driving some to the point of extinction. Most environmentalists just don’t want to know. Because they’re so desperate to believe in renewable energy, they’re in a state of denial. But the evidence suggests that, this century at least, renewables pose a far GREATER THREAT TO WILDLIFE THAN CLIMATE CHANGE. Read more@spectator.co.uk 08:31

    Marie Jane

  2. Marie Jane says:

    “In this case, it is really hard to impugn the source of the study, or the results, given the breadth of the data effort, the experience of the research team, and the lack of any credible, relevant competing science.”

    Reply: The depth of the data effort should have been limited to the affected area. Each of the victims has a face, name, address. In this case, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, each industrial wind turbine farm can be located with pinpoint accuracy, therefore, each area within proximity to the offending turbines could be evaluated. At 122,000+ study was unnecessary. An Appraisal by a Licensed Appraiser would have accomplished the task.

    Given the accuracy of that type of research, he victims (those who have become ill) and the persons who have been unable to sell their homes, and the persons who have walked away from their homes can be identified. This would, of course, bring a totally different conclusion than the Hoen/Atkinson Palombo “study”.

    Perhaps, DOE/MA CEC will provide funds for the purpose of adding balance to the issue with independent Scientists and Appraisers doing the research (victim’s choice). In the meantime, a moratorium on the industrial wind turbine agenda should be enacted in the Commonwealth and when, and if, the results show beyond doubt that there is no harm to people, siting issues can be addressed; but, not until. (I would like to add to the environment, but that will be left for another day.)

    Did you, by the way, read, “WIND FARMS, RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY VALUES, AND RUBBER RULERS” (Albert R. Wilson)?

    Marie Jane

  3. Marie Jane says:

    Mr. Rogers.

    I found this; it relates to the 2009 Hoen study which used similar methodology (Hedonics). I hope you will take the time to read it.
    Wind turbines have a very negative impact on home values and people’s lives.

    Please read:
    ([PDF]
    Wind Farms Residential Property Values and Rubber …
    docs.wind-watch.org/WindFarmsResidentialPropertyValuesandRubberRulers. pdf
    Property Values in the United States: A Multi- Site Hedonic Analysis” … I express no opinion concerning the impact of wind power projects on residential property.)

    I hope you will read A.R. Wilson and rewrite your story pointing up the inadequacies in Mr. Hoen’s “study” and that it really does not address property values.

    You must understand, Mr. Hoen, Berkeley Lab, MA CEC, the group who paid $70,000. for this study, are all feeding out of the same DOE trough. There is nothing transparent or independent in their shared opinions.

    I realize how wind involved you are. But, you must do a bit more research before compromising your professional opinion.

    Marie Jane

    • John Rogers says:

      Thank you for your concern for proper procedures, Marie Jane. The issues that Mr. Wilson brings up were well addressed by the authors (including one of the authors of this study) of a similar, 2009 study in a response to similar objections from an anti-wind group: http://croh.info/attachments/114_Berkeley%20Labs%20Response%20to%20Reviewer%20Comments.pdf.

      Among other points, that response says:

      “…the majority of those concerns are not consistent with the extensive literature on the hedonic pricing method and its use in investigating the possible impact of amenities and disamenities on property values. Moreover,… the authors believe that any relevant concerns expressed… are already adequately addressed in the final report. The hedonic pricing model, as used in this study, is the appropriate method to address the question of whether views of and proximity to wind facilities affect residential sales prices. Further, many of the limitations of the previous literature (e.g., small sample size, unreported statistical significance) are directly addressed by the Berkeley Lab analysis. The efforts made to benchmark the results to other literature and to test the robustness of the report’s findings further substantiate the approach and results of the research. Therefore, although all analysis has limitations and additional research is warranted, the authors maintain that the Berkeley Lab work is the most reliable, comprehensive, and data-rich research effort to date in the U.S. or abroad on the possible impacts of wind projects on property values.”

      Since that time, the authors have furthered the research with a much larger study, the results of which were released late last year: http://blog.ucsusa.org/do-wind-turbines-affect-property-values-277.

      As for the funding source: as I’ve commented before, that’s something we care a lot about (see our “Disinformation Playbook”, for example). While we don’t take money from the Department of Energy, we depend heavily — and appropriately — for information that comes from DOE, from its Energy Information Administration (EIA), and from the various national labs that work on energy issues, and from other. Where such information does not jibe with reality (the EIA has historically been slow to catch up with developments in the marketplace with regard to costs for, say, nuclear energy and various renewable energy technologies), we take that into account. (See http://blog.ucsusa.org/eia-analysis-bingaman-clean-energy-standard, for example.)

      In this case, it is really hard to impugn the source of the study, or the results, given the breadth of the data effort, the experience of the research team, and the lack of any credible, relevant competing science.