Study: Wind turbines do not impact nearby property values

The construction and operation of wind turbines in Rhode Island does not depress nearby property values, according to a study by University of Rhode Island economist Corey Lang. More

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Study: Wind turbines do not impact nearby property values

PBN FILE PHOTO/FRANK MULLIN
WIND TURBINES CONSTRUCTED near residential homes have no statistically significant negative impact on property values, according to a study by University of Rhode Island economist Corey Lang. Above, the defunct turbine adjacent to Portsmouth High School, one of the 12 turbines included in Lang's study.
Posted 12/23/13

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – The construction and operation of wind turbines in Rhode Island does not depress nearby property values, according to a study conducted by University of Rhode Island economist Corey Lang.

Lang, an assistant professor of natural resource economics at URI, presented the results of his study at a public meeting on Dec. 17 sponsored by the URI Outreach Center and the R.I. Office of Energy Resources, which funded his research.

Having analyzed the sale prices of 48,000 Rhode Island homes during the last 15 years, comparing homes located near one of the state’s 12 wind turbines with homes further away from the turbines. Lang found that the turbines may cause a 0.4 percent drop in property values for homes within half a mile of a turbine, a deviation well within the study’s margin of error.

“Proximity to a turbine has no statistical effect on property values,” Lang concluded. His findings echo the report of a national study conducted earlier this year by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which analyzed more than 50,000 home sales near 67 wind facilities across nine U.S. states and determined no significant impact on property values.

Lang’s analysis included property value comparisons before construction was announced at each site, following the announcement, during construction and during each turbine’s operation.

Rhode Island’s first wind turbine was constructed in 2006, and the other 11 turbines were built leading up to and following the crash of the housing market in 2008, Lang said. Aside from a general downturn in housing price trends during those years – among both properties in close proximity to wind turbines and those far from them – Lang discovered no statistically significant negative change in home prices following the announcement or construction of a nearby wind turbine.

According to Lang, studies of the impact of wind turbines on property values conducted in sparsely populated areas like Iowa and Texas have drawn conflicting conclusions, with some finding large negative impact and others finding no impact. However, Rhode Island’s high population density sets Lang’s findings apart from previous studies, he said.

“One of the reasons that wind turbines are so contentious in Rhode Island is that our population density is high and there are so many houses all around turbine sites. That worries people,” said Lang. “However, that density provides me with much more data than other studies have had access to.”

A similar study is currently underway in Massachusetts, another densely populated state like Rhode Island with single turbines constructed in scattered locations. The results of the Massachusetts study are due in the next six months, said Lang.

“What I’m hoping is that my analysis provides additional input for future decision making,” he said. “I hope that people understand the results and take them seriously as they continue the debate about wind turbine siting.”

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