(if you want to get straight to the articles and studies, click here)
How do we choose where we want to live and recreate? If you choose to live in New York, it may be that you love the energy of the city, the restaurants, the theatre. If you buy vacation property near Orlando, you probably value the sunshine, heat and proximity to Disney World. But what about the people who choose to own property in the Downeast Lakes region?
We don't have to hire consultants to conduct a survey to determine why people choose to live and play here. It's obvious. We place a very high value on:
- • Being surrounded by nature.
- • Enjoying wildlife.
- • Being able to look to the horizon without seeing any reminders of man's presence.
- • Seeing the Milky Way at night.
- • Natural quiet.
- • Clean water.
- • Hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, etc.
In order to live in this area, we have all made sacrifices. You learn to plan ahead because a trip to the grocery store is a half day affair. Some things we want, we have to do without. And yet we stay, so strong is the attraction of being surrounded by mountains, wildlife, clear lakes and rivers. When we bought our homes, particularly waterfront homes or those that have long views, we paid a premium for these valuable features. And we continue to pay a premium through our property taxes.
Sadly, the day Maine's legislature "urgently approved" the recommendations of the Governor's Wind Energy Task Force, much of Maine was rezoned as pre-approved for industrial use. The Windustry wants to blast mountaintops, build highway-sized roads and punctuate the horizon with 400' to 500' tall industrial towers crowned with flashing red strobe lights. Can they tell us with any certainty that the Bowers project won't hurt property values in a unique resource-driven community such as ours? No, they can't. Building industrial wind projects close to scenic lakes is a new phenomenon. The data most often quoted by the Windustry is several years old and is based on projects on large tracts of land where there are few homes, and the homes that are near the turbines are participating financially in the project. That is not what the real estate industry would call "comparable".
Ask any objective real estate professional and he'll tell you that one of the most validated real estate principals is that natural views and scenery add to a property's value, and intrusions restricting those views reduce value. Professional appraisers know that even transmission lines detract from value. So doesn't it follow that the presence of an industrial wind power facility will as well?
Whenever the issue of property devluation arises, the Windustry, First Wind included, responds by pointing to a 2009 report by The Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report titled “The Impact of Wind Power Projects on Residential Property Values in the United States: A Multi- Site Hedonic Analysis”. In fact, in its Bowers-2 application First Wind says that "Studies on the impact of turbine visibility on property values similarly refute PPDLW’s claims. e.g., Hoen et al. (2009)..." (source: 2/17/13, Champlain Wind's response to comments and questions by James F. Palmer on the Bowers Wind Project User Surveys, page 18).
HOWEVER... that report has been misinterpreted and its conclusion intentionally misrepresented by the Windustry. The limited data set used in compiling that report are from 2008 and earlier. The authors acknowledged that while there are individual cases of property devluation, the data they had did not provide evidence that home prices surrounding wind facilities were "consistently, measurably, and significantly affected". That's a far cry from the Windustry's claim that the study proves that wind facilities have no effect on property values.
But don't take our word for it. In talking about Property Value Guarantees, Ben Hoen says that the Windustry is misrepresenting what his report says. Hoen indicates if developers believe turbines won’t devalue neighboring property they should be willing to guarantee it. Listen here
The following articles also show that the Windustry is intentionally misrepresenting the Hoen study to support their interests:
Appraisal Expert Michael McCann has written twice about the problems with the NREL/Hoen Study. The first is a letter to the study's author . The second is Regarding Ben Hoen Study on Residential Property Values by Michael McCann
Wind Farms, Residential Property Values and Rubber Rulers by Albert R. Wilson. Wilson is an evaluator of environmental impacts on business and real estate with more than 25 years experience who has specifically studied hedonic analyses of real estate for more than a decade, and has taught and written extensively on these impacts and methods.
"Critique of The Impact of Wind Power Projects on Residential Property Values in the United States: A Multi-Site Hedonic Analysis” by Wayne Gulden
“DOE study says wind farms don’t affect property values, but...” is a report by The Acoustical Ecology Institute.
“Turbine Effects on View Shed” are observations by engineer Chuck Ebbing (starts on page 20).
“False conclusions based on flawed real estate studies” are some fine commentaries here, here, and here by WindAction.
Given the choice between buying a property with exquisite natural views and a comparable property surrounded by industrial development nearby, which one would you pay premium prices for?
The studies purchased and widely quoted by the Windustry present prices obtained in a select group of real estate transactions. That's completed transactions. But there's more to real estate than the price paid. Especially in the current economy time on the market is every bit as important as price received. It just stands to reason that when there are more sellers than buyers, time on the market increases and prices decline. But the Windustry ignores this fact. Just ask anyone trying to sell a property with views of the Rollins project. The following two pictures were taken on Route 6 just east of Lincoln. It is obvious to anyone with a basic knowledge of economics that when you have this many properties available, the time on the market will be long and the value of those properties is falling.
I'm not worried about my property's value.
I have no plans to sell anyway, so why should I care?
If you care at all about your community, you should care about property values. Property values drive property taxes which are a critical component of every town's budget. With more and more wind projects going up, towns are being besieged by local property owners who are challenging their assessments and filing for abatements. As evidence of devaluation mounts, towns are being forced to reassess properties downward or face costly class-action lawsuits.
PVG's = Property Value Guarantees
All we have to go by is the experience of other property owners in more urban areas than ours. If industrial wind facilities harm their property values, it's reasonable to assume it will harm our at least as much and probably much more.
Despite the wind energy proponents' continued claims that their projects have no adverse effects on property values, Iberdrola officially told this NNY community that they would not construct a project there if they were required to compensate land owners for property value losses. Most people would see that as being very hypocritical.
This brings up a KEY point. Wind developers often get approval based on specious claims (regarding jobs created, CO2 saved, etc.). They get away with this as there is no real penalty for exaggerations or stretching the truth. One of the best ways to counter this is to require that all these claims be legally guaranteed, in writing, via a Property Value Guarantee. Just like what happened in the above case, you will see an immediate back-tracking. This will reveal to citizens the accuracy and sincerity of the developer’s assertions.
On March 20, 2013 at 5pm a public hearing took place in front of the Board of Zoning Appeals over the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm application in Tipton County, Indiana. The room was packed to capacity with residents, the developer and the developer's lawyers. By midnight most people had to leave but a solid group of hearty souls remained. At about 1:30am, after much of the packed room had cleared out, the subject of Property Value Guarantee came up. Watch this video to see how a wind developer tries to wiggle out of providing a Property Value Guarantee. The developer ultimately gave in and agreed to provide a PVG!
Click here to watch video on YouTube
April 2, 2013
Searchlight Wind Farm could reduce property values
by 25 - 60 percent, suggest studies
In 2009, Kurt Kielisch of Forensic Appraisal Group conducted a Wind Power Property Value Study and found realized property prices near wind projects fell anywhere from 12% to 40% from pre-wind prices, depending on proximity. He also found that there were far fewer sales occuring the closer you got to the wind projects. Click here to read the results.
In October, 2012 Lansink Appraisals and Consulting (a division of the Wellington Realty Group Inc.) of Toronto published a comprehensive set of case studies entitled Diminution in Price: Melancthon and Clear Creek Wind Turbine Analyses. Lansink studied actual residential property transactions before and after construction of two wind projects in Ontario and found the average reduction in property value at the first project was -35.69% and the average at the other was -38.81%. Of course, the specifics of the wind projects, type of homes, distances etc. are unique to those transactions. But this is one of many professional studies that show considerable loss of property value.
2009 study by Gardner Appraisal Group found declines ranging from 10% - 30% for properties within view of a wind complex.
In his June 10, 2005 direct testimony before the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, Kevin Zarem, a professional real estate appraiser, estimated that residential property near a proposed windplant “will likely be in the 17%-20% loss range.” He based this estimate solely upon visual impact. He did not assess potential loss due to wind turbine noise, motion, or shadows. Read his full report here.
Russell Bounds, a Maryland realtor, testified in a Public Service Commission hearing that, over the last several years, he has had at least 25 people who expressed interest in buying property in a local area targeted by wind developers. However, when he advised them about the plans for wind facilities, not one of those people expressed further interest. (A local real estate agent in the Lincoln Lakes area, who prefers to remain anonymous, told us in June 2012 that this happens frequently with recerational properties that have views of First Wind's Rollins Wind project.)
In September of 2009 Appraisal Group One of Wisconsin published a very thorough Wind Turbine Impact Study. Here's their conclusion:
"After reviewing articles and studies on wind energy, wind turbines appear to have a negative impact on the property values, health, and quality of life of residents in close proximity. Of the studies that found no impact on property value, nearly all were funded by wind farm developers or renewable energy advocacy groups. Of the studies and reports showing property loss, the average negative effect is -20.7%".
This very detailed testimony by McCann Appraisal does a fine job of explaining why wind projects DO have a negative financial impact on nearby property values.
In Ontario, Wolfe Island residents are seeing their property values decline and are filing for abatements. Read about it here.
On 4/7/10 Watertown Daily Times (NY) ran an article entitled Property values blowing in the wind. It describes the impact wind projects have had on property in the area. This is particularly relevant to the Bowers Project as it describes an economy that depends on tourism and homeowners who value their viewshed.
This article, in East County Magazine, reports that Mike McCann of McCann Appraisal, LLC studied over 11,300 real estate transactions near northern New York state turbine arrays. He found that property owners experienced an average 25 percent value loss with some losing as much as 40%. He warned that the turbines being installed today are considerably taller and therefore have even greater impact on values.
A 2011 study Values in the Wind: A Hedonic Analysis of Wind Power Facilities by Clarkson economics professor, Dr. Martin Heintzelman [PDF].
A 2011 Study by appraiser Michael McCann on property value impacts in Cape Vincent, New York [PDF].
A 2011 Report by appraiser Michael McCann on property value impacts in Brewster, Massachusetts [PDF].
Testimony of appraiser Michael McCann on property value impacts in Adams County, Illinois [PDF download].
A study done by Metropolitan Appraisal, regarding the Forward Wind Project (Wisconsin).
“A Wind Turbine Impact Study” by appraisers: Appraisal Group One, and a later version.
A valuable report: “Impact of Wind Turbines on Market Value of Texas Rural Land” by Gardner Appraisal Group [PDF download].
“Living with the impact of windmills” presentation by Real Estate broker Chris Luxemburger, is an analysis of some 600 sales over a three year period.
Testimony of Maturen & Associates, Real Estate Appraisers, concerning the effects of wind projects on home values.
In addition to being an excellent noise an health effects report, this document has a twenty page appendix on property values.
“Wind Power Siting Issues: Overview” (by energy expert Tom Hewson): cites several studies.
Appraisers report property value losses near turbines.
Government Agency agrees that turbines do devalue property!
Property assessments reduced near turbines.
“Wind Industry Big Lie #2 — Your Property Value Will Not Be Affected”
“Farm couple fights wind turbines"
“A new slant on wind projects” offers a very helpful idea as to put some of the economic benefits of wind projects into perspective.
This site has a fine collection of property value articles.
“Property Values decrease by 40% if view of wind turbines” is an analysis of a real estate broker on turbine impacts on residential values.
An excellent discussion by the Wisconsin Realtor Association about the adverse effects of wind development.
An analysis by an Illinois Realtor about effects of wind projects.
A survey by a Wyoming Realtor concluded that properties nearby a wind project were virtually unmarketable.
“Property values blowing in the wind” is a report done by a local Realtor about wind project effects in her area of northern NY.
See here and here where two Realtors make formal testimony about the effects of wind turbines on property values.
See “Landowners say Turbines have Hurt their Property Values.”
“How Industrial Wind Projects Affect Property Values” is a worthwhile commentary by Chuck Ebbing.
A nice presentation “Turbine Effects on View Shed” by engineer Chuck Ebbing.
Some good observations and references on this topic, from Save Western NY.
A newspaper article: “Critics say wind turbines hurt land values.”
“Wind turbine homes threat” is a news report.
“I predict a series of rural ghettos of abandoned, unmaintained homes” says an experienced appraiser.
The Better Plan website has a good example of a real estate problem, plus some good recommendations.
Here is a good news story about homeowners holding out for the wind developers to buy their property — and succeeding very well.
This article says: “Horizon, opponents debate effects on property”.
“U.S. wrestling with property values and setbacks for its wind turbines” touches on several related matters
This UK site site lists several other sources regarding property values.
“Giant blades are slicing home prices” an article about experiences in England.
“An Ill Wind Blowing” is a story about an English family’s experiences with a wind project depreciating their home value.
Ontario Parliament member calls for a provincial home value study about another English family’s experiences with a wind project depreciating their home value.
“Windfarm Blows House Value Away” is a story about another English family’s experiences with a wind project depreciating their home value.
“Wind farm property sells at sheriff’s sale.”
“Property value declines from 20 to 43 percent can be expected in parcels within two miles of turbine sites.”
“Nobody in the area could believe it. They were so loud.” The NY Times on the Fox Island wind turbines
NY Times: Turbines Too Loud for You? Here, Take $5,000
If noise is not an issue as the BRSA claims, why is Caithness Energy paying off local residents in Ohio?
Wisconsin Real Estate Magazine: New Wind Farm Regulations Could Decrease Property Values
“Do Wind Projects Adversely Affect Proximate Residential Property Values?” A compilation of property value articles from John Droz.
A survey by a local realtor may have confirmed the worst suspicions of Stan Mundy, whose home is closest to Chevron’s wind farm northeast of Casper.
Critics say wind turbines hurt land values.
Michigan Wind Working Group – Impact of Wind Turbines on Property Values
Property values blowing in the wind.
Landowners say turbines have hurt their property values.
A proposed 120-metre wind turbine would knock 50 per cent off the value of thousands of nearby homes.
Wind farm property sells at sheriff’s sale.
This agreement was drafted by attorneys in Illinois. If adopted as a condition of approving a wind energy facility, the agreement would guarantee property value protections. The BRSA will do this when hell freezes over.
Among those terms and conditions of the property site were … 3) It not be near “windmills.”
Wind farms are a wonderful source of renewable energy. But have you tried living near one? As Ross Clark reports, they can seriously damage the value of your house
Giant blades are slicing home prices. Wind turbines and Property Value – Real Life Experience
Living with the impact of windmills