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Bard Center for Environmental Policy Graduate Coauthors Federal Study on Impact of Wind Farms on Property Values

New Study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Finds that Wind Farms Have No Widespread Impact on Property Values of Nearby Homes


Darren O'Sullivan
845-758-7649
osulliva@bard.edu
12-02-2009

BERKELEY, Calif.—With an increasing number of communities considering wind energy development, there is an urgent need to empirically investigate community concerns about wind development. One major concern is that property values of homes near wind-energy facilities will be adversely affected. However, a new report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and coauthored by Bard Center for Environmental Policy (Bard CEP) graduate Ben Hoen, finds no widespread impact of wind facilities on residential property values. The report, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, constitutes the most comprehensive and data-rich analysis to date on the potential impact of U.S. wind projects on residential property values.

“Neither the view of wind energy facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities was found to have any consistent, measurable, and significant effect on the selling prices of nearby homes,” says report coauthor Hoen, a consultant for Berkeley Lab. “No matter how we looked at the data, the same result kept coming back: no evidence of widespread impacts.” Gautam Sethi, coauthor of the study and Hoen’s master’s thesis adviser at the Bard Center for Environmental Policy, said Berkeley’s is the first large-scale study that investigates a long-standing claim in a rigorous fashion. “I am very proud of Ben for taking the lead in expanding his master’s thesis work to the national scale and appreciative of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab for supporting this incredibly important piece of research,” he said.

The project’s team of researchers collected data on almost 7,500 sales of single-family homes situated within 10 miles—with the closest home within 800 feet—of 24 existing wind facilities in nine states. Each home in the sample was visited to collect important on-site information, such as whether wind turbines were visible from the home. The home sales used in the study occurred between 1996 and 2007, spanning the period prior to the announcement of each wind energy facility to well after its construction and full-scale operation. The conclusions of the study are drawn from eight different hedonic models, as well as both repeat sales and sales volume models. A hedonic model is a statistical analysis method used to estimate the impact of house characteristics on sales prices.

“It took three years to collect all of the data and analyze more than 50 different statistical

model specifications,” says coauthor and project manager Ryan Wiser of Berkeley Lab, “but without that amount of effort, we would not have been confident we were giving stakeholders the best information possible. Though the analysis cannot dismiss the possibility that individual homes or small numbers of homes have been negatively impacted, it finds that if these impacts do exist, their frequency is too small to result in any widespread, statistically observable impact.” 

The report, “The Impact of Wind Power Projects on Residential Property Values in the United States: A Multi-Site Hedonic Analysis,” can be downloaded from http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/re-pubs.html. A PowerPoint presentation summarizing key findings from the study can be found at http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/emp-ppt.html. For more information on the report, contact Ben Hoen (benhoen2@earthlink.net, 845-758-1896) or Ryan Wiser (RHWiser@lbl.gov, 510-486-5474).

Ben Hoen graduated from Bard CEP in 2006. He was attracted to the Center because of the diverse nature of the studies taught there and because they welcomed students with prior professional experience. Hoen had previously owned a small business in Brooklyn, and had helped develop recycling programs in Baltimore. He holds bachelors’ degrees in finance and business from the University of Maryland and an M.S. degree from Bard CEP. Hoen is under contract to Berkeley Lab to continue his work investigating public acceptance of wind energy and to research community responses to other renewable energy sources, such as solar energy. He is currently conducting an analysis of the impact of solar energy systems on residential sales prices and expects to conduct a survey of households living near wind turbines.

The Bard Center for Environmental Policy was created in 1999 to promote education, research, and public service on critical issues pertaining to the natural and built environments. Its primary goal is to improve environmental policies by facilitating the use of the best available scientific knowledge in the policy-making process at the local, regional, national, and international levels. Bard CEP’s premise is that to address environmental problems and pursue sustainable use of natural resources, scientists, economists, lawyers, ethicists, and policy makers must understand one another’s perspectives and values, and communicate effectively with the general public. Directed by Eban S. Goodstein, Bard CEP is an innovative graduate program leading to either the master of science degree in environmental policy or a professional certificate in environmental policy.

For more information about the Bard Center for Environmental Policy, please call 845-758-7073, e-mail cep@bard.edu, or visit www.bard.edu/cep.

(12/02/09)

 

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This event was last updated on 12-02-2009