MPAC study not likely to quell property value controversy

 Wind turbines don’t hurt property values, MPAC says

Industrial wind turbines have been controversial in rural communities. A new Ontario study investigated the value of properties close to turbines that generate 1.5 megawatts of electricity or more, with towers 70 metres or taller, and blades 35 metres or longer.

Municipal Property Assessment Corp. concludes properties near industrial turbines are “equitably assessed” — but group opposing wind farms says the research is flawed.
By: John Spears, Toronto Star Business reporter, Published on Mon Apr 28 2014

Wind turbines do not have a significant effect on the sale prices of nearby homes, a study by the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. has concluded.

A group that opposes large-scale wind power development quickly labelled the study as “a self-serving exercise by bureaucrats to serve their government masters.”

Big wind farms can have an effect on rural landscapes, with the tips of the blades reaching more than 100 metres into the sky. The turbine towers are topped by blinking red lights at night.

Turbines have created rifts in some rural communities. Leasing out land for turbines provides income for some landowners. Others complain the turbines mar the countryside, cause illness for neighbours and kill birds and bats.

The MPAC study looked at properties close to 1,157 big Ontario turbines that generate 1.5 megawatts of electricity or more. Such turbines have towers 70 metres high or taller, with blades of 35 metres or longer.

The study took note of whether the turbines were fully or partly visible from adjacent properties or not visible at all.

After reviewing the assessments of properties close to industrial wind turbines (IWTs), the study concluded the properties are “equitably assessed.”

It went further, saying: “MPAC’s findings also concluded that there is no statistically significant impact on sale prices of residential properties in these market areas resulting from proximity to an IWT, when analyzing sale prices.”

The study includes a separate analysis by an Arizona-based firm. That analysis concluded that the presence of a wind farm has a “statistically significant but minor” impact on property value.

Properties within one kilometre of a turbine suffer a 4-per-cent drop in value, it said.

The MPAC study is unlikely to settle the controversy over wind turbines. Jane Wilson, who heads Wind Concerns Ontario, told the Star the research is flawed.

Wilson said the study used questionable mathematical modelling and excluded properties that simply didn’t sell or were withdrawn from the market because they’re too close to turbines.

“Honestly, if you have a home, and someone puts up a thing that’s equivalent to a 30- or 40-storey tower, that does make noise, that does have flashing red lights — it’s really not a big jump to say that’s going to have some effect on values,” she said.

Wilson pointed to an appendix in the MPAC report containing bar charts showing the relationship between property values and proximity to wind turbines.

She said the charts show that properties five kilometres or more from wind turbines generally have higher sale prices and assessments than those within five kilometres of turbines.

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