A report published last week by researchers at the University of Connecticut and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory looked at more than 122,000 home sales that occurred between 1998 and 2012 in proximity to current or proposed wind turbines in Massachusetts. Like the study discussed in this space last summer (which shared a co-author), it found no statistical evidence that wind turbines impact the value of nearby properties. The report, supported by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, is obviously of particular interest here in Massachusetts. Its authors intend for it to fill a data gap by focusing on wind facilities located in relatively urban areas and on wind facilities that contain fewer than three turbines (as opposed to larger wind farms) – circumstances common in Massachusetts and other relatively densely populated areas.
While the report’s findings are undoubtedly favorable for developers, studies like this are unlikely to directly affect the siting difficulties and host-community challenges experienced by some wind energy projects. Host community reactions to wind energy projects are more complex than can be captured by looking at the effect (or lack thereof) that such projects have on property values. One of the more interesting portions of the report is a discussion of an expanding literature studying the factors that shape public attitudes towards wind energy projects. The report describes studies, many from Europe, that link public acceptance of or opposition to wind energy projects to community perceptions of risk, equity, and ownership. If those links are truly predictable and robust, they may influence the structuring of future projects.