Some people who learn that wind turbines are going to be built in their neighborhood freak out about a couple of things, but science can help put their minds at ease.
First, they worry that their health will be harmed if they develop so-called “wind turbine syndrome.” But there is no evidence that wind turbines actually cause any of the ailments commonly blamed on them.
Next, they worry that the value of their property will fall. “Here come those eggshell-colored spinning things that produce energy but no pollution,” they might mutter to one another in hushed tones. “There goes the neighborhood.”
Fortunately, this concern is equally unwarranted, according to a comprehensive new study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers [PDF]. From the study:
We collected data from more than 50,000 home sales among 27 counties in nine states. These homes were within 10 miles of 67 different wind facilities, and 1,198 sales were within 1 mile of a turbine — many more than previous studies have collected. The data span the periods well before announcement of the wind facilities to well after their construction. …
Regardless of model specification, we find no statistical evidence that home values near turbines were affected in the post-construction or post-announcement/pre-construction periods. …
[T]he core results of our analysis consistently show no sizable statistically significant impact of wind turbines on nearby property values.
This was the largest study of its kind, but it was not the first. Studies published by the same laboratory in 2009 and 2011 reached the same conclusions.
“Although there have been claims of significant property value impacts near operating wind turbines that regularly surface in the press or in local communities, strong evidence to support those claims has failed to materialize in all of the major U.S. studies conducted thus far,” said lead researcher Ben Hoen.
Hoen and his colleagues dug up similar but highly localized academic studies focused on parts of Illinois, New York, Ontario, the U.K., and the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Only the latter study found any evidence of a potential effect of wind turbines on property values.
So unless you’re investing in real estate in western Germany, you can breathe easy about any nearby wind energy developments. They won’t harm your health, and they won’t diminish the value of your property portfolio.
Get Grist in your inbox