If the United States intends to meet the Department of Energy’s goal of producing 20 percent of the nation’s electricity from wind power, some 3,000 wind farms will need to be built.1,2 Though some surveys show that the public is generally in favor of wind energy, the “Not in My Backyard” attitude is common and often relates to how a wind farm might affect surrounding property values.3,4 In a study of the impact of ten US wind facilities on residential property values, we organized the potential effects into three classes:5
- Area stigma: the perception that the general area surrounding a wind energy facility will appear more developed and will therefore have lower home values regardless of whether any individual home has a view of the wind turbines
- Scenic vista stigma: the perception that a home may be devalued because the view of a wind energy facility may damage an otherwise scenic vista
- Nuisance stigma: the perception that factors related to wind turbines, such as sound and shadow flicker, will have an adverse effect on home values
Any combination of these three potential stigmas might affect the value of a particular home. We used several pricing models to analyze a sample of 7,459 sales on the open market between a buyer and a willing seller for homes located near 24 wind facilities spread across nine US states. These facilities were chosen from a set of 241 wind projects with a capacity greater than 0.6 megawatts that were constructed in 2005 or before. We analyzed the number of home sales both before and after wind facility construction and, especially, the number of sales within two miles of the facility. We also used models that examined the anticipated impact of a wind farm near a home.
The results will surprise the “Nimbies.” On average, homes in these study areas were not measurably stigmatized by the arrival of a wind facility, regardless of when they sold in the wind project development process or of how close they were (one mile to five miles) to the nearest wind facility. Despite our finding that the quality of a home’s scenic vista significantly affects its value, none of the models uncovered any evidence of a wind farm negatively affecting views. Even the 25 homes in the sample with full views of the wind facility were found to be unaffected. The same finding held for the 106 homes rated as having a moderate view of the wind turbines and for the 561 homes rated as having a minor view. We did find some evidence of a weak effect on the homes located closest (within a half-mile or quarter-mile) to the wind facilities. But there could be another reason for the depressed value of these homes; in fact, we found that several years prior to the wind farm announcement these homes sold for ten to 13 percent less than similar homes located more than five miles away. In other words, the relative value of these homes did not fall after the announcement or construction of the wind facility. While most of our results are robust and reliable, results pertaining to these properties lying within a short distance of the wind facilities are not since they are based on a very small sample. Future research could focus on the impacts on these properties.