Some have suggested that naming hurricanes after climate-deniers would give anti-science efforts a dose of reality. But if science is the general enemy of the climate-denier lobby, then renewable energy–wind turbines, in particular–has become one of the movement’s priority targets.
Last year, an internal memo from an American Tradition Institute (ATI) fellow leaked by the Guardian revealed a set of strategies to take down the wind industry, one of which was to “sue for property value loss to small land holders” and “use all legal cases to create media poster child effect.” A new Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study using data from 2012 shows that this strategy might not bear fruit: Across 50,000 home sales in 27 counties in nine states, researchers found zero evidence that average home prices were affected by wind turbines nearby.
The 2013 study collected more data than the previous two, looking at homes within 10 miles of the 67 turbine facilities and examining 1,198 sales within a mile of them. Noting that wind production capacity is expected to grow by some 2,750 turbines a year, likely in New York, New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest, researchers wondered if turbines might create similar problems for home values as living near a new power line or landfill has demonstrated in the past.
“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/preconstruction periods,” researchers found. “Therefore, if effects do exist, either the average impacts are relatively small (within the margin of error in the models) and/or sporadic (impacting only a small subset of homes).”
As for why turbines didn’t cause upset in the housing market, the study authors pointed to evidence that wind turbines might actually have positive qualities that set them apart from landfills, power lines, and noisy roads. Other studies have shown that wind facilities can bolster local government budgets through property tax payments, which in turn benefit local schools. And unlike coal-fired power plants, wind facilities don’t spew greenhouse gases and pollutants that can sicken communities.
Willful misinformation about renewable energy might aid a “nocebo effect” when it comes to wind turbine syndrome symptoms, but it appears that the housing market remains staunchly unmoved. Maybe it’s time to revise the anti-wind memo?