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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wind Farms: No Effect on Home Sale Prices

A new Department of Energy study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory finds that having a wind farm in the neighborhood doesn't appear to "have any consistent, measurable, and statistically significant effect on home sales prices." Researchers Ben Hoen, Ryan Wiser, Peter Cappers, Mark Thayer, and Gautam Sethi analyzed 7459 home sales in 24 communities around 10 wind farms in 9 states. They find that, while wind developers and neighbors alike have expressed concern that wind turbines could depress property values by busting up the view and creating nuisances like noise and flickering shadows, the numbers don't reveal any consistent pattern of lower sale prices for homes closer to or with prominent views of wind farms.

Now if you Google this study, you can find a stern critique of Hoen et al.'s preliminary work on the Industrial Wind Action website. It is important to note that IWA based its criticism on preliminary conclusions the authors circulated in 2007. IWA posted this criticism of Hoen et al.'s draft work in September, prior to publication of the final study. The authors include IWA's Lisa Linowes in their acknowledgments at the beginning of the published study, which suggests they did indeed take into consideration IWA's complaints about methodology in drafting their final report.

Interestingly, you can also find this newsblip from CBS affiliate KOSA in West Texas, in which reporter Greg Sherman appears to get the story flat wrong. I've e-mailed him to ask if he is citing a different Department of Energy study (why is it so hard for professional reporters to figure out how to cite sources and provide hyperlinks?). Still no reply... and no correction.

As the authors themselves acknowledge, these results doesn't change the fact that some folks don't like windmills, and that some folks may refuse to bid as high on a house near a windmill. But the science says that overall, you can't argue that a wind farm will drive down your property values.

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