(Updated August 2012)
Wind power is one of the fastest growing sources of electricity generation. While much past growth has taken place in Europe (Denmark derives up to 29% of its electricity from wind), wind power has recently made inroads domestically. With a total of 47,000 mega watts (MW) in operation at the end of 2011, U.S. wind turbine capacity generated enough electricity to power the equivalent of nearly 14 million homes.
As wind farms spread, local opposition to the massive towers (some over 400 ft tall) is appearing and is beginning to impact state regulation. Residents not only oppose the turbines for aesthetic reasons, they also worry how wind farms will impact property values.
This field guide explores the current state of the industry, examines real-estate-related research and its critics, provides wind maps and regulations to give an indication of where future projects might unfold, and gives resources, both critical and supportive, for further study. (D. Shumaker, Senior Library Information Specialist)
Windfarms and the Power of the Wind
Top Five States by Cumulative Wind Power Capacity in Mega Watts (MW)—2011:
Top Five States by Potential Wind Energy, thousands of GWh per year:
Wind Energy Basics, (Bureau of Land Management, N.D.). How wind turbines work, advantages and disadvantages.
Tough Love for Renewable Energy: Making Wind and Solar Power Affordable, (Foreign Affairs, May/June 2012). Q
2011 Wind Technologies Market Report, (U.S. Department of Energy, Aug. 2012). Annual report that provides a comprehensive overview of trends in the U.S. wind power market, with a particular focus on 2011. The full report, a stand-alone executive summary of the report, a presentation, and some of the data underlying the report can be downloaded.
20% Windpower by 2030, (U.S. Department of Energy, May 2008).—This report looks closely at one scenario for reaching 20% wind energy by 2030 and contrasts it to a scenario of no new U.S. wind power capacity.
Impact on Real Estate Values
Wind Energy Facilities and Residential Properties: The Effect of Proximity and View on Sales Prices, (Journal of Real Estate Research, 2011). Q Same authors as the DOE report below.
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), 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.
Green vs. Green: Measuring the Compensation Required to Site Electrical Generation Windmills in a Viewshed, (Appalachian State University, June 2007). A study finds that “individuals who perceive wind energy as a clean source of power require less compensation. Those who retire to the mountains or individuals who have ancestors from Watauga County require more compensation to accept windmills in their view-shed. The annual compensation necessary is estimated to be about $23 per household. In the aggregate, citizens need to be compensated by about $500,000 a year to allow wind electrical generation turbines in Watauga County." A version of this paper appeared in the journal Energy Policy in 2008.
Impact of windmill visibility on property values in Madison County, New York, (Bard Center for Environmental Policy, Bard College, Apr. 2006). Master's thesis. The paper finds no measurable affect on property values on 280 arms-length single family home transactions around an upstate New York windfarm. Also provides a good review of previous studies.
An economic analysis of a wind farm in Nantucket Sound, (Beacon Hill Institute, May 2004). The authors use a survey methodology to poll tourists, residents and real estate agents as to the effect of a proposed windfarm in Massachusetts. Homeowners expect the project to decrease their home values by an average of 4.0%. A minority of real estate agents concurred.
The effect of wind development on local property values, (Renewable Energy Policy Project, May 2003). One of the main sources in support of wind farming, this study was one of the first detailed looks at the relationship between wind farming and property values. The study finds that wind farms have no impact on property values. However, opponents discount the report due to some statistical issues (problems with the study are outlined on pgs. 16-17 of the Bard College paper above). Still widely cited.
Final Report of the Wind Turbine Moratorium Study Committee, (Lincoln Township, WI, Feb. 2000). Lincoln Township in western Wisconsin undertook a study of local windfarms to gauge their impact on the community. Excerpts of this report are often cited by wind farm opponents to bolster their case. However, the actual report states "the siting of the windmills has not had any significant negative impact on property values near them." (pg. 161 of pdf)
Wind Maps, Regulations, Getting Started
State Wind Resource Maps, (Wind Powering America, July 2012)—Links to updated state specific maps detailing wind resources.
Installed U.S. Wind Capacity, (Wind Powering America, Mar. 2012)—An animated map showing how capacity has grown over the last 13 years. Current through March 2012.
Energy (Special Report): Upfront—Catching the Breeze at Your Door: Backyard turbines are becoming more popular; Here's what you need to know if you're considering one, (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 13, 2010). Q
Catching the breeze at your door, (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 12, 2010). Backyard turbines are becoming more popular. Here's what you need to know if you're considering one.
DSIRE: Database of State Incentives for Renewable's and Efficiency, (NC State University, 2010)—DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Wind farms multiply, fueling clashes with nearby residents, (Los Angeles Times, July 24, 2011). Demand for clean energy has led to a wind turbine building boom. But many living in their shadow decry the electricity generating projects as pesky eyesores.
Windpowerfacts.info John Droz, Jr. has gathered information on the problems of wind energy on his website.
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.
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.
StopillWind The purpose of Stopillwind is to provide evidence exposing the limitations of wind technology, both as a system for producing energy and because its massive scale too often threatens sensitive ecosystems and vulnerable wildlife while producing numerous nuisances that erode quality of life for nearby residences and, in many locations, destroy historically significant natural views.
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.
North American Windpower. A magazine serving decision-making professionals involved in the North American wind energy generation and distribution business.
Windpower Monthly. A news magazine focused on the international wind energy 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.
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).
Books & Other Resources
Books, Videos, Research Reports & More
The resources below are available for loan through Information Central. 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 Information Central at (800)874-6500 for assistance.
Wind Power, Revised Edition: Renewable Energy for Home, Farm, and Business, (Chicago: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2004).
Field Guides & More
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