Wind Turbines & Property Values Revisited

December 30, 2013

A new study conducted by Professor Corey Lang, a University of Rhode Island assistant professor of Natural Resource Economics, is the most recent large-scale analysis of the potential effects of wind turbines on residential property values.  It analyzed the sale prices of 48,000 homes in Rhode Island over the last 15 years and compared homes near one of the state’s 12 wind turbines to homes far from the turbines.   His analysis showed that wind turbines may cause up to a .4% diminution in value for those homes within a half mile of a turbine, a result that is “well within the study’s margin of error” according to news reports.   The study was funded by the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources.  It was presented on December 17th to a public meeting sponsored by the URI Outreach Center and the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources.

Lang believes the conditions in Rhode Island are different from other states where studies have been done in that the population in his state is far denser than in the other states, and those studies involved large wind farms rather than single, isolated wind turbines.  Thus, he says he has far more data than most researchers analyzing the issue.  Perhaps, but one could certainly argue that a large wind farm may impact property values differently than single, isolated wind turbines.  Either way, the only other recent study to use so many sales in its analysis, to our knowledge, also found essentially no effect on property values.

That study, released by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory earlier this year, analyzed both the post-announcement/pre-construction, as well as the post-construction impact of wind facilities on property values.  It analyzed over 50,000 home sales in 27 counties in 9 states.  The homes were within 10 miles of 67 different wind facilities, and 1,198 sales were within 1 mile of a turbine.  The study found no statistical evidence that home values near turbines were affected in the post-construction or post-announcement/pre-construction period.

According to a presentation by Professor Lang in January 2013, his study has a much higher number of property sales closer in proximity to wind turbines than the original 2009 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study.  He claims to have analyzed the pre-announcement vs. post-announcement, as well as the pre-construction vs. post-construction periods for impacts, and he apparently analyzed for view shed, shadow flicker, and turbine height differences.

The Lang study has not been published to our knowledge, so it is difficult to compare it to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory analyses.  Lang is conducting a similar study in Massachusetts which should be complete in about six months.  It will be interesting to see what peer review process is applied to this work.  The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory work was performed and reviewed by some of the very best researchers, statisticians, and real estate experts in the country.