Harnessing the power of mother nature for energy is one of the key strategies in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and other finite, environmentally damaging resources. Solar panel installers around the world are installing home solar panels that can not only power everything in a home from lights, electronics, to electric underfloor heating, these high-tech solar panels can even push unused power back to the power grid, helping to power other homes.
Although solar energy generally receives the most attention from the media as a source of renewable energy, wind power has been in use for hundreds of years – even before the invention of the modern power plant or the discovery of electricity. Yet despite their long history and environmental friendliness, wind turbines and wind farms often receive negative press and criticism from nearby homes and communities. One of the primary reasons people don’t like having wind turbines built around their communities is the concern that wind turbines will reduce the value of their property. How legitimate is this fear?
What kind of impact do wind turbines have on the property values of nearby homes?
Research on Wind Farms and Property Values
There have been 4 major, statistically reliably studies performed by respected research groups in various countries around the world that have found that the presence of wind farms generally do not appear to have a negative effect on property values. In fact, two of these studies found positive correlations between property values and operating wind farms. One study did find that properties within 1 mile of a wind farm did suffer from property value decreases, but there was no significant effect outside of that radius.
Additionally, one of the studies noted that the fear and negative publicity generated at the announcement of an upcoming wind turbine project could have a negative impact on property values prior to the actual erection of the wind turbines. Once the wind turbines were operating however, the study found no negative long term impact. This suggests that the anti-wind advocacy groups – by publicizing the fear of property devaluation and scaring away potential buyers – may actually cause some of the negative impact they rally against. Below are brief overviews of the major studies conducted on wind energy facilities and their correlation with property values.
US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
This 2009 study commissioned by the US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and performed by the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, found no evidence of negative impact on property values in the communities near wind farms. The study looked at the sales of 7,500 single family homes that were located within ten miles of wind farms in 9 different U.S. states.
Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyers/Oxfords Brookes University
This 2007 study looked at 919 property sales surrounding a 5 mile radius of 3 separate wind farms during the period of 2000 to 2007. This study controlled for other major factors that could have a potential impact on property values, such as large mines, properties that were outliers in terms of price, as well as waterfront properties. The study found that, while there was no significant evidence that wind farms had an impact on surrounding communities, there was a negative effect for properties within a 1 mile radius of a wind farm.
Renewable Energy Policy Project
This 2003 study looked at the largest data set – over 25,000 property sales in the United States – of all 4 major studies. This study looked at the property transactions of homes within 5 miles of 10 different wind farms, as well as properties outside of the 5 mile radius for control purposes. The study found that, for 80-90% of the wind farms, properties values within the 5 mile radius increased faster than the properties outside of the 5 mile radius of the wind farms. However, it may be worth noting that this study was conducted by an organization dedicated to the advancement of renewable energy.
Wind Farm Proximity And Property Values – Jennifer L. Hinman
This study was published in 2010 by a Masters student with Illinois State University. The study looked at 2,851 home sales from the past decade around the Twin Groves wind farm in Illinois. This study replicated the findings of the REPP study, finding that property values seemed to increase at a greater rate closer to the wind farm. This study also found a correlation between the fears prior to the actual construction of the wind energy project and a temporary reduction in property values.
How To Interpret These Findings
Despite study results that show most properties around wind farms have nothing to fear, the fact remains that many individuals who purchase rural property – whether as permanent homes or vacation properties – have a strong emotional attachment to the natural beauty of the rural countryside. Since wind farms are generally constructed in rural areas, it’s no surprise that residents who have chosen to avoid the jungles of concrete, steel, and glass that make up modern cities are resistant to the idea of having giant, unsightly power generators built within visible distance of their lands. While there appears to be generally nothing to fear in terms of property value decline in surrounding communities, this won’t stop local residents from protesting against new wind farm developments in their communities.