worth less: wind turbines as evaluations of property and people

Ontario’s Municipal Property Assessment Corporation recently published Impact of Industrial Wind Turbines on Residential Property Assessment in Ontario – 2012 Assessment Base Year Study, and, as is thankfully something of a tradition, Wayne Gulden has analysed/refuted the pro-wind/government study on his Wind Farm Realities site.

The MPAC study contains a graphic indicating the relatively low property values of homes closer to industrial wind turbines, as part of a narrativeMPACvalue explaining there is no significant evidence that industrial wind turbines (IWT) devalue property.

Those who have followed what may be called a debate on the impact of IWTs on property values are familiar with lower values of properties proximate to IWT’s being explained away.

Relationship between Wind Turbines and Residential Property Values in Massachusetts, a report released early in 2014, also concluded that houses near IWT’s were cheaper … and the report also found no statistical evidence that the turbines impacted pricing.  While living in proximity to an IWT appeared to impact valuations like living near a landfill, prison, highway or transmission line would, the study claims that houses near turbines were cheaper before turbines were planned to be near them:

…our model estimates that home values within a half mile of a future turbine were lower than in the surrounding area even before wind-facility announcement. In other words, wind facilities in Massachusetts are associated with areas with relatively low home value

Not only is this true for the houses looked at in Massachusetts, but the study notes it’s been found to be the case elsewhere too:

Other studies have also uncovered this phenomenon (Hoen et al., 2009; Hinman, 2010; Hoen et al., 2011). If the wind development is not responsible for these lower values, what is?

What indeed.  Wind Farm Realities indicated that the MPAC study doesn’t study the impact of industrial wind turbines on pricing at all, but the variance between what MPAC assessed homes at and what the selling price was.  Only in the case of the homes most proximate to IWTs did the assessed value exceed the sale price, but the difference is deemed statistically insignificant – although presumably not by those selling their homes proximate to IWT’s.

There seems to be a trend of finding out that the reason houses are cheaper near industrial wind turbine sites is that industrial turbine sites are put where houses are cheaper.

Were the MPAC study’s findings predetermined, the report would have been the same as it is.

Wind Farm Realities criticisms of the document give two reasons to assume the findings were predetermined; the shoddiness of explaining the process, and the greater shoddiness in criticizing Ben Lansink’s work.  Both seem to be summed up in noting the reduction in MPAC assessments on Wolfe Island – keeping in mind the study is comparing assessed value to sale value.

…I posted on MPAC’s actions on Wolfe Island about 18 months ago.  In the 7 years when the wind project went from being developed to operational, the roughly 700 properties on Wolfe received the following number and average reductions:

  • 2005/06: 130, 9.3%
  • 2006/07:  33, 15.2%
  • 2007/08:  12, 28.8%
  • 2008/09:  34, 12.4%
  • 2009/10:  44, 29.0%
  • 2010/11:   22, 30.0%
  • 2011/12:    27, 24.0%

That’s a total of 302 reductions, which seems like a rather large percentage of the properties there.

It certainly does seem like a large number of reductions to predate a study implying IWT’s didn’t impact pricing based largely on the re-assessed values

Added to the knowledge available to the authors of the MPAC study (the Massachusetts study, Hoen study…) this would seem to indicate an a priori position that if IWT’s were built, they were necessarily built near lower valued homes – even if markets and owners had not recognized them as such at the time.

If turbines are going up, the area is either known to be cheap, or it is overvalued.

Reality being relative to the existence of a turbine or two is nothing new in Ontario, at least not in its capital city.

Toronto’s sole turbine is an engineering and operations disaster, but that doesn’t exclude it from being “an icon… for the green energy movement.”  [1]

Unfortunately, the MPAC study doesn’t do enough to convince people it is not just another exhibition in Ontario’s “green energy movement.”

Most of Ontario was already aware properties proximate to industrial wind turbines were valued lowly by the province’s authorities.

Many think the people in those proximate areas are also valued lowly, by those who inexplicably value themselves highly.

1. Quote is cited in The Exhition Turbine: An Icon for Ontario’s Mazza Race 

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