The Effect of Wind Turbines on Property Values: A New Study in Massachusetts Provides Some Answers

January 22, 2014
John Rogers
Energy Campaign Analytic Lead

A new study looked at how well wind turbines and homes fit together in Massachusetts, and found no evidence that wind turbines affect property values. That finding is consistent with other recent work from a range of states across the country. And it’s good news for everybody wanting to get wind turbines sited responsibly, in the Bay State and beyond.

The new study, Relationship between Wind Turbines and Residential Property Values in Massachusetts, is a joint report done by experts at the University of Connecticut and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). It builds on a 2013 study by one of the authors, Ben Hoen of LBNL, and colleagues, which found “no statistical evidence” of effects on home sales near wind turbines in 27 counties in nine states.

Wind turbines in a denser state

For the new work, the researchers zeroed in on Massachusetts. The state is important in this case because it has very different circumstances, people-wise, from places the 2013 work studied. Specifically, it’s got a lot more people in a lot tighter spaces:

The average gross population density surrounding the Massachusetts turbines (approximately 416 persons per square mile…) far exceeds the national average of approximately 11 persons per square mile around turbines…

Given that difference, the study set out to explore whether home values are affected by wind turbines, or announced plans to build them, in Massachusetts.

To figure out the answer, the research took in more than 122,000 home sales from 1998 to 2012 in the state that were near existing or future “utility-scale” wind turbines. Most were single wind turbines; others were in groups of two, three, or, in one case, 10. The data included 7,188 sales that were within a mile of a turbine, including 1,503 after the relevant turbine was installed.

No measurable impact on property values

Gloucester's majestic wind turbines were too new to be included in the study, but clearly relevant to the topic at hand. And awfully picturesque. (Source: J. Rogers)

Gloucester’s majestic wind turbines were too new to be included in the study, but clearly relevant to the topic at hand. And awfully picturesque. (Source: J. Rogers)

The study’s conclusion was that, except maybe briefly after a given project had been announced and before it had been built, there was no measurable impact on property values. From the report (emphasis added):

The results of this study do not support the claim that wind turbines affect nearby home prices. Although the study found the effects on home prices from a variety of negative features (such as electricity transmission lines, landfills, prisons and major roads) and positive features (such as open space and beaches) that accorded with previous studies, the study found no net effects due to the arrival of turbines in the sample’s communities. Weak evidence suggests that the announcement of the wind facilities had an adverse impact on home prices, but those effects were no longer apparent after turbine construction and eventual operation commenced. The analysis also showed no unique impact on the rate of home sales near wind turbines. These conclusions were the result a variety of model and sample specifications.

To put those home-price findings in perspective, the study also offered information on how turbines stack up against a range of “amenities” and “disamenities” in Massachusetts, according to the new research. The results, shown in the graphic below, suggest that landfills, transmission lines, and highways aren’t good for property values; beaches are; and wind turbines probably fall in between.

As with the previous LBNL study, this one doesn’t say that wind turbines are never an impact for anybody. Different people react differently to turbines, and some people clearly feel more passionate about them, pro or anti, than others. Here’s how this handy FAQ from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, which supported the research, puts it (emphasis added):

The findings of the study suggest that a house’s price should not be discounted because it is near a turbine. As with all characteristics of a particular property, a house’s proximity to a turbine may dissuade some buyers, but the fact that people do buy houses near turbines suggests that not all potential buyers share the same view about turbines

It’s really handy, though, to have more and more data showing just how well wind turbines and homes fit together.

Wind energy is a key tool for our transition to a clean energy future, and understanding issues like effects on property values is a key part of making wind happen appropriately — from “the mountainous Berkshire East Ski Resort, [to] heavily urbanized Charlestown,… [to] picturesque Cape Cod” — and beyond.

 

Posted in: Energy

Tags: Renewable energy, wind, wind power

About the author

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John Rogers is a senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists with expertise in clean energy technologies and policies and a focus on solar, wind, and natural gas. He co-managed the UCS-led Energy and Water in a Warming World Initiative, a multi-year program aimed at raising awareness of the energy-water connection, particularly in the context of climate change, and motivating and informing effective low-carbon and low-water energy solutions.