- Power lines do tend to lower property value for one very simple reason – most homeowners do not find them aesthetically pleasing.
- Though the dangers of EMFs have not been proven, many home owners still have a fear of living too close to power lines and other pieces of active infrastructure
- Power lines may also affect what homeowners can do with their property, like where and what type of trees they can grow, for example.
Source: How Much Do Power Lines Decrease Property Value (Aniya Equity LLC, Aug. 8, 2020)
Over the last decade, hurricanes, floods, and wildfires have become more frequent, wreaking havoc on the often outdated infrastructure in all areas of the county, and power lines are no exception. During exposure to high winds and water, power lines not only are easily rendered out of commission, leaving millions without power, but also become extremely dangerous. Though burying them underground is a good option in some places, and would certainly prevent fires, underground powerlines are not possible in many coastal areas.
Burying power lines could also address one of the main reasons that power lines reduce property value – homeowners simply do not like how they look. They often break up otherwise pristine views, and have been proven to lower property value by as much as 40 percent.
Though aesthetics are main reason that power lines are frowned upon, some home owners are concerned about the health risks of electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Past studies linking cancer to EMFs have been debunked, but it has not been proven that EMFs explicitly do not cause health issues. You can read about EMFs and assess any potential health risks through trusted sources like the World Health Organization and the Environmental Protection Agency.
See References for more information.
NAR Library & Archives has already done the research for you. References (formerly Field Guides) offer links to articles, eBooks, websites, statistics, and more to provide a comprehensive overview of perspectives. EBSCO articles (E) are available only to NAR members and require the member's nar.realtor login.
Electric and Magnetic Fields Explained
Flood Prone Gulf-Coast is a Tough Place to Bury Power Lines (Bloomberg, Aug. 30, 2021)
Though burying power lines is often suggested as a solution to power outages due to extreme weather like hurricanes, fires, and tornados, location often presents huge challenges. Aside from the common complaint that burying power lines is too cost prohibitive, coastal areas like New Orleans are at (if not below) sea level, making it extremely dangerous to place live power lines so close to water.
PG&E Will Bury 10,000 Miles of Power Lines So They Don’t Spark Wildfires (WBEZ Chicago, Jul. 21, 2021)
“After previous leaders allowed its equipment to fall into disrepair in a apparent attempt to boost profits and management bonuses, the utility's grid was blamed for igniting a series of devastating wildfires in 2017 and 2018 that prompted the company to file for bankruptcy in 2019.”
Hurricane Ida Exposes Grid Weaknesses as New Orleans Goes Dark (The New York Times, Aug. 8, 2021)
“The storm raises fresh questions about how well the energy industry has prepared for natural disasters, which many scientists believe are becoming more common because of climate change. This year, much of Texas was shrouded in darkness after a winter storm, and last summer officials in California ordered rolling blackouts during a heat wave. More than a million residential and commercial customers in Louisiana were without power on Monday afternoon, and Entergy and other utilities serving the state said it would take days to assess the damage to their equipment and weeks to fully restore service across the state.”
Power Lines and Property Values
Power Lines and Property Value: What You Need to Know (Orchard, Jun. 23, 2021)
Most homebuyers do not find power lines aesthetically pleasing, especially if they are in a location that would otherwise have a pristine ocean, river, or forest view. While this personal preference does tend to lower property values, another major factor in the power line debate concerns health. Concerns over EMFs (Electro Magnetic Frequencies or Electric and Magnetic Fields) have not been proven by the WHO or EPA, and are immeasurable once you are more than 500 feet away.
How Much Do Power Lines Lower Real Estate Value? (SF Gate, Jan. 30, 2021)
“Proximity to power lines may lower a property’s value from 10 to 40 percent, according to Gustan Cho Associates. One example points to a Rhode Island group, the Friends of India Point Park, which has been trying to have the high-voltage power lines in their area moved underground. According to Politifact, the group notes that their property values are lower by 30 percent because of the proximity to these large power lines, and the documentation it uses shows that some studies confirm that number.”
Study: Lots Near Power Lines Lose Nearly Half Their Value (REALTOR® Magazine, Aug. 22, 2018)
"Lots located next to power lines tend to sell for a whopping 45 percent less than similar lots further away from high-voltage transmission lines, according to a new study in the Journal of Real Estate Research. Lots that are non-adjacent to power lines but are located within 1,000 feet of them often sell at a discount of 18 percent, researchers Chris Mothorpe and David Wyman, the authors of the study, found."
Power Lines and Electric and Magnetic Fields
Electromagnetic Fields and Cancer (National Cancer Institute, Jan. 3, 2019)
“Although a study in 1979 pointed to a possible association between living near electric power lines and childhood leukemia (15), more recent studies have had mixed findings (16–24). Most of these studies did not find an association or found one only for those children who lived in homes with very high levels of magnetic fields, which are present in few residences.”
Electric and Magnetic Fields from Power Lines (United States Environmental Protection Agency)
“Electric and magnetic fields, also known as electromagnetic fields (EMF), consist of waves of electric and magnetic energy moving together. These energy fields surround us all the time. Scientific studies have not clearly shown whether exposure to EMF increases cancer risk. A few studies have connected EMF and health effects, but they have not been able to be repeated. This means that they are inconclusive. Scientists continue to conduct research on the issue.”
eBooks & Other Resources
Books, Videos, Research Reports & More
The resources below are available for loan through NAR Library & Archives. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call the Library at 800-874-6500 for assistance.
Death and Disclosure: Legal Strategies for Dealing with Stigmatized Properties (Richfield, OH: October Research Corporation, 2007) HD 1341 R22d
Cell Towers: Wireless Convenience? Or Environmental Hazard? (Markham, Ont.: Safe Goods/New Century Publishing, 2001) HE 9713 B45
Cartographies of Danger: Mapping Hazards in America (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1997) GB 5014 M66
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