Do wind turbine farms affect the property values of those living near them? It’s an enormous question for those who wake up one morning to find that their dream property, acreage, or generational farm is slated to be surrounded by massive industrial wind turbines (see just how big here). Elk Point area residents now face this reality.
Numerous studies have examined the question and a quick search reveals some polar opposite answers. So before we look at the studies, let’s use a little common sense. Imagine several massive wind turbines built within eg. 500-1500m of your property. You can not only hear the “wooshing” sound of the blades 24/7, but sometimes it sounds like a jet hovering above your house. At night, your horizon is transformed from a field of massive turbines to a view of incessantly blinking lights. Moreover, at times you can feel vibrations from the massive turbines and even hear a low rumble. You may even experience other symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, sleeplessness, and other ill effects that have now been identified in over 480 studies and recognized in a court of law.1
Now, do you think someone else would like to buy your property as they stand in your kitchen with the realtor and listen to the same thing that has been driving you crazy?
There is nothing hypothetical in this scenario. It’s been lived repeatedly by thousands of people throughout Canada and abroad who have told their tearful stories after their peaceful countryside was overtaken by wind farms. Many have stated outright that not only has their property value dropped, but some say their homes are virtually unsaleable (see the documentary Down Wind).
The CBC has documented scores of families who’ve discovered their property values are not only going downward, but also some who are unable to sell and have even abandoned their homes because of concerns nearby turbines are affecting their health.October 1, 2011, “Ontario wind power bringing down property values”, cbc.ca
While some studies claim that there is a negligible effect on property values, several independently funded studies have generally found the opposite to be true: housing and land values depreciate, sometimes drastically.
Wind industry and government supported studies found little to no evidence of an impact. However, independent studies found a significant impact using a variety of valuation methods from paired sales analysis to multi-regression analysis.June 11, 2020; “Impact Analysis of the Niyol Wind Farm on Surrounding Rural Residential and Agricultural land Values in Logan County Colorado”; study
“A Spatial Hedonic Analysis of the Effects of Wind Energy Facilities on Surrounding Property Values in the United States”2 by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is almost a wind industry benchmark used to bolster the claim that massive turbines around your acreage or farmhouse won’t change a thing. However, real estate valuation advisor Michael McCann found several flaws in the study. Among them:
- the most heavily populated wind turbine geographical areas were not included in the study
- only about two percent of the sales studied involved properties a mile or less from the turbines
- The authors also used a mix of prior sales and local tax assessment data to come up with a baseline for home values pre-turbine, which introduces a whole range of possible monkey-wrenches: assessors don’t always get things right, and people short-sell or overpay for homes for a range of personal, subjective reasons.3
In written testimony to Adams County in Illinois, McCann’s own research concluded:
Real estate sale data typically reveals a range of 25% to approximately 40% of value loss, with some instances of total loss as measured by abandonment and demolition of homes, some bought out by wind energy developers and others exhibiting nearly complete loss of marketability.June 8, 2010; docs.wind-watch.org/McCann-Setbacks-property-values.pdf
His findings are consistent with other appraisers:
- Municipal Property Assessment Corporation 2012 study of wind turbine impacts on residential property assessments – Wayne Gulden
- Case Study: Diminution in Value – Wind Turbine Analysis – Lansink Appraisals and Consulting
- Case Study: Diminution/Change in Price – Melancthon and Clear Creek; Wind Turbine Analyses, Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC); Current Value Changes – Lansink Appraisals and Consulting
- Re: Wind Turbine setbacks – Mike McCann
- Impact of Wind Turbines on Market Value of Texas Rural Land – Derry Gardner
- Wind Turbines & Property Value – Kurt Kielisch
- Excerpts from the Final Report of the Township of Lincoln Wind Turbine Moratorium Committee – Elise Bittner-Mackin
Somewhat surprisingly in the Berkeley study was the inclusion of properties up to 10 miles from wind turbine sites — which in many cases is not only long out of earshot but even visibility. However, more recent independent studies have found that both the size of a turbine and closer distances are where the real impacts on property values are felt.
Our results suggest that the opening of a wind turbine decreases local house prices by 1.8%. The impact of turbines does not reach beyond 2250m… For a turbine taller than 150m we find that the effect is on average -5.4%. The impact area is about 2 km.“Wind turbines, solar farms, and house prices”, August 2021, Science Direct
The Brampton Real Estate Board in Ontario found much greater impacts. On average, from 2007 to 2010, properties adjacent to turbines sold for between 20 and 40 percent less than comparable properties that were out of sight from the windmills.4 The same story has been repeated in other countries:
I have agents who have had buyers come in, and they have asked why they said “no”, and two of the buyers have actually put in writing that it is because of the wind farm.Robert Keough, Spring Mountain, Australia; July 10, 2015; The Inverell Times
A study by the Germany-based RWI Leibniz Institute for Economic Research shows that wind turbines can lead to falling prices for single-family homes in the immediate vicinity.
The value of a one-family house falls by an average of 7 percent when a wind turbine begins operation within 1 kilometre of the property… the value of older houses in rural areas dropped by up to 23 percent. [Nb. The effect disappears at a distance of 8 to 9 kilometres]“Wind turbines hurt property prices, study finds”, January 21, 2019; Clean Energy Wire
The Energy Research Center conducted a study on property values. Their conclusion:
Focusing on proximity and visibility effects caused by wind farm sites, we find that proximity, measured by the inverse distance to the nearest wind turbine, indeed causes significant negative impacts on the surrounding property values.rev. March 2013, Sunak and Madlener, ideas.repec.org
A second study by the same authors concluded:
…the asking price for properties whose view was strongly affected by the construction of wind turbines decreased by about 9–14%. In contrast, properties with a minor or marginal view on the wind turbines experienced no devaluation.“Local impacts of wind farms on property values: A spatial difference-in-differences analysis”, March 2016, Energy Economics
In Stephen Gibbons study “Gone with the wind: Valuing the visual impacts of wind turbines through house prices”, he examined…
…places close to wind farms that became visible in the past, or where they will become operational in the future and places close to wind farms sites but where the turbines are hidden by the terrain. All these comparisons suggest that wind farm visibility reduces local house prices, and the implied visual environmental costs are substantial.Vol. 72, July 2015, Science Direct
An independent Wisconsin study by Appraisal Group One found:
(a) in all cases with a 1-5 acre residential property, whether vacant or improved, there will be a negative impact in property value;
(b) with 1-5 acre properties the negative impact in property value in bordering proximity ranged from −39% to −43%;
(c) with 1-5 acre properties the negative impact in property value in close proximity ranged from −33% to −36%;
(d) with 1-5 acre properties the negative impact in property value in near proximity ranged from −24% to −29%“Wind Turbine Impact Study”, September 9, 2009; docs.wind-watch.org
Other studies have found that public perception can play a role in property values.5 And obviously, if you think wind turbines are a visual monstrosity — or a thing of beauty — that will affect your buying decision. It’s also noteworthy that wind turbines are only getting bigger and bigger since several of these studies were conducted.
Whenever banks appraise the value of your property, they always take into consideration other properties in the area. When it comes to farms or acreages, the value of a property is determined, in part, by the value of properties sometimes several dozen kilometers from your location, depending on the density of the population and similarity of other properties. Even though you may not be close to a wind turbine, you may still feel the effects of property value depreciations when it comes time for your own appraisal in the same region.
Last, even though a proposed wind turbine project may not be close to your home now, it may not stay that way.6 Most wind energy projects, once established, can more than triple in size over large distances. Neighbors who thought they dodged a bullet suddenly find themselves surrounded by wind turbines, and there is little to nothing that can be done about it.
The time to stop wind turbine projects is before they drive the piles into the ground, forever changing the landscape and value of the land all around them.
What do you think? Leave your comments on our Facebook page and spread the word!
- cf. Wind Turbines and Health: The Studies
- 2013 using 2009 data; see here
- see:“The Impact of Wind Power Projects on Residential Property Values in the United States: A Multi-Site Hedonic Analysis”; also: “Regarding Ben Hoen study on residential property values“; and here
- cf. cbc.ca
- cf. “ONTARIO: Wind turbines may have a negative effect on property values, says professor”, January 11, 2019; baytoday.ca
- see How Do You Know?