Opponents of wind-energy projects located near homes on Cape Cod, however, questioned the study's validity and pointed to experiences of residents in Falmouth who say their home values have plummeted because of the town-owned wind turbines. "That's the state," Falmouth resident Barry Funfar said about the Clean Energy Center. "The state is pushing for 2,000 megawatts of wind capacity." Funfar convinced Falmouth's Zoning Board of Appeals last month that the turbines at the town's wastewater treatment plant are causing him health problems and affecting his home's value. An appraisal in 2012, which did not take into account the proximity of the wind turbines, valued his property at $714,000; a more recent appraisal that included the turbines as a factor pegged Funfar's home as worth $429,000, he said.
A quasi-public agency responsible for promoting clean-energy technologies in the Bay State has released a study that found no significant effect of wind turbines on home values.
“What we wanted to do was to help provide independent research to communities that are either dealing with questions about existing projects in their communities or communities that might be dealing with new projects,” said Alicia Barton, CEO of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, which sponsored the study.
The $70,000 study analyzed 122,000 home sales between 1998 and 2012 that were within 5 miles of 41 wind turbines in Massachusetts. It focused on four development periods, from before a project is announced through post construction.
For projects within a half mile of an operating turbine, the effect on home prices was about a half percent in the positive direction, according to the report.
The study also compared the effect of wind turbines with the effects of other factors, such as proximity to the beach, major roads, electricity transmission lines and landfills. For example, the effect of being near the beach had a positive effect of nearly 26 percent on home prices. For properties near landfills, the effect was a negative of 12.2 percent.
Opponents of wind-energy projects located near homes on Cape Cod, however, questioned the study’s validity and pointed to experiences of residents in Falmouth who say their home values have plummeted because of the town-owned wind turbines.
“That’s the state,” Falmouth resident Barry Funfar said about the Clean Energy Center. “The state is pushing for 2,000 megawatts of wind capacity.”
Funfar convinced Falmouth’s Zoning Board of Appeals last month that the turbines at the town’s wastewater treatment plant are causing him health problems and affecting his home’s value.
An appraisal in 2012, which did not take into account the proximity of the wind turbines, valued his property at $714,000; a more recent appraisal that included the turbines as a factor pegged Funfar’s home as worth $429,000, he said.
“They’re killing us,” he said.
The town’s assessor’s office values the home at $589,500.
“We have some fundamental differences with this latest study, as it differs dramatically from research by an independent national, expert appraiser who found that home prices near wind turbines in Massachusetts have plummeted by 15 to 40 percent,” Windwise Massachusetts board member Lilli-Ann Green of Wellfleet wrote in a statement. “All one has to do is to get out of the office and talk to homeowners living near wind turbines in Falmouth and other communities who cannot even sell their homes because of documented noise and health concerns.”
There is no evidence in the study that the researchers talked to homeowners or real-estate agents in Massachusetts, Green wrote.
Green wrote that appraisals of 20 homes near existing or proposed wind turbines by Michael McCann, president of McCann Appraisal of Chicago, have shown that the projects are “devastating to home values.”
In addition, the Clean Energy Center’s support for wind energy projects raises questions about the study’s credibility, Green wrote.
Barton and the study’s authors, however, said there was no attempt to influence the results of the work.
“The work is really theirs in terms of the modeling and the conclusions,” Barton said about the authors, Carol Atkinson-Palombo, assistant professor with the University of Connecticut Department of Geography, and Ben Hoen, staff research associate at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Atkinson-Palombo and Hoen said they never felt pressured to arrive at a specific conclusion.
“It’s an independent study, and that’s how it was commissioned,” Atkinson-Palombo said.
The researchers also looked at whether the rate of sales affected the outcome, but there were plenty of sales around the turbines so that was not the case, she said.
Atkinson-Palombo said there are other areas where more research may be done, such as how attitudes toward wind energy affect the willingness of people to buy property near a turbine.
The outcome of the Massachusetts-specific study lines up with a national study that used similar methodologies, Hoen said.
“They can be thought of as complementary to each other,” he said of the two studies. “They’re really different though. There were no expectations of what we were going to get when we started in on the Massachusetts work.”
The study cannot help determine is a particular home will be affected by a particular project, Barton said.
“If you try to zero down to the community level, the reliability is not high enough in order to draw the same type of conclusions,” she said.
But the study doesn’t show a discernible effect on property values on average, Barton said.
“I’m aware that not everyone may agree with or like the results of the study,” she said, adding, however, that a similar study in Rhode Island resulted in similar findings.
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