Wind Farms

Overview

Powerful, controversial, and fast growing, wind power is making inroads in the United States. U.S. wind power totaled nearly 182 million megawatthours (MWh) during 2014, equal to 4.4% of U.S. electricity generation and more than three times the wind power generated in the United States in 2008. However, with growth comes opposition. Homeowners are worried about decreasing property values and the visual blight of turbines.

References

We've 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 a password.


Background

Basics of Wind Energy (American Wind Energy Association) — "When the wind blows past a wind turbine, its blades capture the wind’s kinetic energy and rotate, turning it into mechanical energy. This rotation turns an internal shaft connected to a gearbox, which increases the speed of rotation by a factor of 100. That spins a generator that produces electricity. Typically standing at least 80 meters (262 feet) tall, tubular steel towers support a hub with three attached blades and a “nacelle,” which houses the shaft, gearbox, generator, and controls. Wind measurements are collected, which direct the turbine to rotate and face the strongest wind, and the angle or "pitch" of its blades is optimized to capture energy."

How a Wind Turbine Works (United States Department of Energy) — "Wind turbines operate on a simple principle. The energy in the wind turns two or three propeller-like blades around a rotor. The rotor is connected to the main shaft, which spins a generator to create electricity."

Wind Turbines (Explain That Stuff!, May 18, 2018) — "If you've ever stood beneath a large wind turbine, you'll know that they are absolutely gigantic and mounted on incredibly high towers. The longer the rotor blades, the more energy they can capture from the wind. The giant blades (typically 70m or 230 feet in diameter, which is about 30 times the wingspan of an eagle) multiply the wind's force like a wheel and axle, so a gentle breeze is often enough to make the blades turn around. Even so, typical wind turbines stand idle about 14 percent of the time, and most of the time they don't generate maximum power. This is not a drawback, however, but a deliberate feature of their design that allows them to work very efficiently in ever-changing winds."

Impact on Real Estate Values

Property Value Impacts of Wind Turbines and the Influence of Attitudes Toward Wind Energy (Land Economics, Nov. 1, 2018) E — "The results of this study provide strong evidence that wind turbines in Ontario have negatively impacted surrounding property values."

The Amenity Costs of Offshore Windfarms: Evidence from a Choice Experiment (NC State University, Aug. 2017) — Results indicate that there is not a scenario for which respondents would be willing to pay more to rent a home with turbines in view,as compared to the baseline view with no turbines in sight. Further, there is a substantial portion of the survey population that would change their vacation destination if wind farms were placed within visual range of the beach. The rental discounts required to attract the segment of the survey population most amenable to viewing wind farms still indicate that rental value losses of up to ten per cent are possible if a utility-scale wind farm is placed within 8 miles of shore.

Spatial Hedonic Analysis of the Effects of US Wind Energy Facilities on Surrounding Property Values (Journal of Real Estate Finance & Economics, Jul. 1, 2015) — Across all model specifications, we find no statistical evidence that home prices near wind turbines were affected in either the post-construction or post-announcement/pre-construction periods.

The Windy City: Property Value Impacts of Wind Turbines in an Urban Setting (Energy Economics, 44 (2014)) — “Broadly, the results suggest that there is no statistical evidence for negative property value impacts of wind turbines. Both the whole sample analysis and the repeat sales analysis indicate that l1 houses within half a mile had essentially no price change . . . .”

Relationship between Wind Turbines and Residential Property Values in Massachusetts (U of CT/ US Dept. of Energy, 2014) — The study “found no net effects due to the arrival of turbines in the sample’s communities. Weak evidence suggests that the announcement of the wind facilities had a modest adverse impact on home prices, but those effects were no longer apparent after turbine construction and eventual operation commenced. The analysis also showed no unique impact on the rate of home sales near wind turbines.”

Values in the Wind: A Hedonic Analysis of Wind Power Facilities (Land Economics, Aug. 2012) — 2011 draft available here. This paper uses data on 11,331 property transactions over nine years in northern New York State to explore the effects of new wind facilities on property values. They find that nearby wind facilities significantly reduce property values in two of the three counties studied. These results indicate that existing compensation to local homeowners/communities may not be sufficient to prevent a loss of property values.

Wind Energy Facilities and Residential Properties: The Effect of Proximity and View on Sales Prices (Journal of Real Estate Research, 2011)  E— Same authors as the DOE report below.

Wind Turbines & Property Values (Appraisal Group One, 2010) — Impact studies suggest the values are substantially negatively impacted in the range of -12% to -40%. P. 17.

The Impact of Wind Power Projects on Residential Property Values in the United States: A Multi-Site Hedonic Analysis (U.S. Department of Energy, Dec. 2009) — A three-year study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory concludes “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. No matter how we looked at the data, the same result kept coming back—no evidence of widespread impacts.” The link is to the press release on the study. A PDF version of the study is available at the bottom of the press release along with a PowerPoint of highlights and contact information. Critics of the study appeared almost immediately, including the Acoustic Ecology Institute, appraisers (here and here), as well as from established opposition groups. Study author Ben Hoen presented the following slides at the New England Wind Energy Education Project webinar, 2010: Impacts on residential property values new wind turbines: An overview of research findings and where to go from here [PowerPoint in PDF]. This presentation shows updated research and conclusions from the Berkeley study that suggest that effects on property values can exist and need to be addressed.

Wind Maps

Installed Wind Capacity (U.S. Department of Energy/Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, 2018) — This map shows the maximum potential output from wind power given the number of installations in a state.

The U.S. Wind Turbine Database (U.S. Geological Survey, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory & the American Wind Energy Association) — The United States Wind Turbine Database (USWTDB) provides the locations of land-based and offshore wind turbines in the United States, corresponding wind project information, and turbine technical specifications. The creation of this database was jointly funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) via the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) Electricity Markets and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

DSIRE: Database of State Incentives for Renewable's and Efficiency (NC State University) — DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Wind Maps (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) — This collection of wind maps and assessments details the wind resource in the United States.

Opposition

Wind Turbines Haven't Been Universally Welcomed by Everyone in Iowa (The Gazette, Feb. 23, 2019) — Despite being approved for construction that year by the county, a legal fight — one that saw the city of Fairbank and a group of area residents file separate lawsuits against the development — broke out over whether the county’s more than 40-year-old zoning ordinance allowed for wind turbine development. In mid-2018, the turbines were ordered to be torn down by a district judge. They were dismantled late last year.

Wind Farms Whipping Up Opposition Across Rural Indiana (windAction, Jun. 9, 2016) — But as industrial wind energy tries to blow into other parts of the state, it’s running into resistance from communities that fear those turbines will overrun the landscape. Private developers are in an aggressive push to double the number of Indiana’s wind farms. But they must contend with neighbors, lawsuits and the fickle support of elected officials who once welcomed them and are now changing their minds. Fears of noise, adverse health effects and worries that home values will plummet as the giant turbines go up are driving the concerns of opponents.

The Amenity Costs of Offshore Wind Farms: Evidence From a Choice Experiment (Center for Environmental and Resource Economic Policy, North Carolina State University, Mar. 2016) — Our choice experiment with customers renting coastal vacation properties unambiguously indicates that viewing a utility-scale offshore wind farm from a beach rental property is a is amenity for these individuals. There was no wind farm scenario, for any group of respondents, in which visitors to the coast indicated that they would be willing to pay more to rent a property with turbines in view, as compared to one with no turbines in sight. Even more striking is that over 50 percent of those surveyed indicated they would not return to the same beach for their next rental should a utility-scale wind farm be placed offshore. This is true despite wide-spread support for wind energy development among these same respondents.  (P. 29-30)

Wisconsin ‘Health Hazard’ Ruling Could Shock Wind Industry (E & E News, Sept. 16, 2015) — Late last year, Glenmore, a rural community just south of Green Bay, persuaded its county's board of health to declare that the sounds of an eight-turbine wind farm pose a "human health hazard." It was the first time a health board has made such a determination. Wind energy opponents from across the country seized on the decision as proof of "wind turbine syndrome," a supposed illness caused by low-frequency noise and "infrasound" that is typically undetectable to the human ear.

More and more wind turbine opponents are collecting resources online. Below are a sample:

Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions — "The purpose of this site is to sort through many thousands of articles, studies and reports on energy matters, select a representative cross-section of informative material, and then organize it in an understandable manner."  Offshore wind is one of the many topics covered on this website.

Industrial Wind Action Group  — Industrial Wind Action is "dedicated to providing information on industrial wind energy to enable communities and government officials to make informed decisions."

National Wind Watch — National Wind Watch™ is a nonprofit organization that promotes awareness of the negative impacts of industrial wind energy development on our environment, economy, and quality of life.

Wind Turbine Syndrome — Nina Pierpont’s research on the physical impact of wind turbines on nearby residents. While some dispute her claims and small sample size, further study is warranted.

Wind Energy Websites

American Wind Energy Association  — AWEA is a national trade association representing companies and individuals involved in the wind power industry. It promotes wind energy as a clean source of electricity for consumers around the world. The organization website does a good job addressing opposition to wind farms.

National Wind Coordinating Collaborative (RESOLV)  — The NWCC brings together government, industry and environmental organizations to try to reach consensus on sustainability developing wind power in the U.S. Subcommittees address environmental, economic, and technical concerns.

National Wind Technology Center — The National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) at NREL is the nation's premier wind energy technology research facility. The NWTC advances the development of innovative land-based and offshore wind energy technologies through its research and testing facilities.

National Wind Institute  — Texas Tech University’s National Wind Institute (NWI) is based on a strong foundation of more than 40 years of research and education on the impact of wind on structures and human life.

North American Windpower  — A magazine serving decision-making professionals involved in the North American wind energy generation and distribution business.

Windustry — Non-profit organization dedicated to increase wind energy opportunities for rural landowners and communities. Rich collection of resources including industry links, news, state regulations, lease guidelines, and more.

Windpower Monthly — Windpower Monthly is the leading news magazine of the international wind energy business, publishing non-stop since 1985.

Yes2Wind  — (Greenpeace / World Wildlife Fund / Friends of the Earth). UK site sponsored by major environmental organizations to promote wind power in Britain. Includes a wind power FAQ, a myth-buster section, and a wind farm locator (UK only).

eBooks & Other Resources

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

The resources below are available for loan through Member Support. 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 Member Support at 800-874-6500 for assistance.

Greening the Wind (Kindle, Audiobook, eBook)

The Homeowner’s Guide to Renewable Energy (Kindle, Audiobook, eBook)

Wind Power for Dummies (Kindle, Audiobook, eBook)

Wind Power Basics (Kindle, Audiobook, eBook)

Wind Power, Revised Edition: Renewable Energy for Home, Farm, and Business (Chicago: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2004) TJ 825 G44


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The inclusion of links on this page does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this page complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.

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