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Posts Tagged ‘property values and wind farms’

Yesterday we countered a wind developer’s claims that property values do not decline near industrial wind power projects and we referred to a number of real estate appraisers’ opinions that they do. Here is a letter to The Ottawa Citizen from Michael McCann of the U.S., which lays out the case pretty well.

From:  McCann Appraisal, LLC

To:  The OttawaCitizen.com

January 25, 2011
I am writing regarding the Ian Hanna case being heard presently in Ontario, and to offer a little more information and insight than was described in Lee Greenberg’s article today (1-24-11).

My expertise is not in health issues, but there is a direct relationship between those impacts and my professional studies of real estate impacts.

For example, numerous families have been forced to abandon their homes due to the factual impacts to health, sleep disturbances and the like, which the Canadian Wind Energy Association and the American Wind Energy Association prefer to dismiss as “concerns.”  Many others have been unable to sell their homes due to the presence of nearby turbines, and which a growing list of realtors and estate agents report as being the deciding factor in would-be buyer’s decisions to look elsewhere.

There is a measurable and significant loss of values within 2 to 3 miles, and noise impacts have been broadcast as far as 5 miles or more, in some instances, with 1 to 2 miles being commonplace. Value losses have been measured at 20% to 40%, with a total loss of equity in some instances.

Wind developers have been known to buy out the most vocal neighbors who refuse to roll over and play dead when they are initially ignored, and then turn around and sell those same homes for 60% to 80% below the appraised value—thus confirming value losses by their own actions.

Other developers have avoided future liability by bulldozing the purchased homes.

In fact, wind developers and the existing Canadian setback are even inadequate to protect neighbors from ice throw or from sections of turbine blades, which are documented as occurring up to half a mile from the turbines, and I have personally heard of a blade throw (piece) that went about 1 mile.

Regardless of these facts, the wind industry often tries to convince the siting decision makers that safety issues are satisfied by setbacks of 1.1 X the height of turbines (550 meters in Canada), as if preventing a toppling turbine from landing on a neighbors house is the correct standard.

It is obvious what is happening here: The wind industry is playing a numbers game, under the assumption or actuarial calculations that it is less costly for them to fight a number of lawsuits from citizens who do not have deep pockets, than it is to buy out the property they need to create huge projects.

The solution is simple, also: Mandate that all property they seek to encompass with industrial overlays be purchased outright, so people have an option as to whether they choose to live in a large, noisy industrial setting.

I am quite certain any of your staff can confirm my factual comments by simply driving to any number of projects and counting the abandned and for sale homes, talking with a few remaining neighbors, etc. Maybe start with the Clear Creek project, where a dozen homes are reported abandoned, due to proximity of about 3 dozen turbines. The list will grow as large as time devoted to research of this issue will allow.

Like most other people, I initially assumed that wind energy would be a good trend. Unlike most people, I have expended something on the order of 2,000 hours looking into it, and my findings are quite contrary to the “positions” of the wind industry and their lobbyists. However, even the wind industry’s counterpart to my profession, Mr. Ben Hoen, has now gone on record saying that Property Value Guarantees should be used for nearby homeowners, and that “if wind developers won’t guarantee that, then they really don’t have a leg to stand on.”

Your publication can do much to bring the truth to public view, and I am available to answer any questions you may have. Also, you have my permission to publish this letter as you see fit.

Incidentally, if you Google my name + Adams County, Illinois, you will find a lengthier report which provides more details of property value impacts, along with public documents on buyouts made by Canadian Hydro of turbine neighbors homes.

Respectfully,

Michael S. McCann
McCann Appraisal, LLC
500 North Michigan Avenue, Suite # 300
Chicago, Illinois 60611

Real Estate Appraisal & Consulting

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Appearing in this week’s edition of Ontario Farmer is a full-colour ($$$) advertisement paid for by the corporate wind development lobby group, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) advocating for wind turbine leases as an important source of income for farms.

Clearly, CanWEA needs to persuade farm owners that the negative response to industrial wind projects is just a blip and that they are doing the ‘right thing” for the world at large, and for their own farm and family.

There are, however, a number of factual errors in the ad. First, industrial wind turbines are NOT producing enough energy for 1.2 million homes. That figure must be based on capacity but the TRUTH is, industrial wind turbines operate at just over 20 percent capacity. And then, much of it is at night, when the power isn’t needed.

Second, that Ipsos-Reid poll showing that 86 percent of people want wind energy is based on a survey so tiny — an online survey (unreliable) that was done using 1,300 people, or roughly 0.0001 percent of the people in Ontario. A huge flaw in the survey was that there are no details on who the respondents were, but indications are that they live in urban areas and have litte idea about the implications on industrial-scale wind developments.

Here is the ad.

Ad – Ontario Farmer 28SEP2010

*****UPDATE October 1. The farmer portrayed in this ad does indeed “host” an industrial wind turbine, but he has ONE (not three like in the photo) and it is on a piece of land not where his house is. That’s not all: he is an employee/subcontractor for Erie Shores, the corporate wind developer. The situation is NOT AS ADVERTISED.

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CanWEA sponsored a consulting report called “Wind Energy Study–effect on real estate values in the municipality of Chatham-Kent, Ontario”. It was prepared by two Ontario real estate appraisers, George Canning and John L. Simmons.

The North Gower Wind Action Group has a number of people we rely on for expertise in various areas, and property values is one of them; however, Wayne Gulden of the Amherst Island group came out with a critique of this study on the weekend, and our expert concurs with everything he said.

Note that the wind energy lobby group thought so highly of this report that they have already sent it to municipal councils and other organizations throughout the province.

Mr Gulden’s comments are:

-this is a worse effort than the Hoen et al report sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy last year and prepared by the Berkeley Laboratory. That study was widely criticized for a number of reasons, not the least of which that it claimed to use sales from thousands of properties but in actuality, very few were relevant.

-Cannings and Simmons use four different methodologies to come to their conclusion, because the first three didn’t work out for them and their sponsor.

-Gulden says if they had only used any one of the first three methodologies, CanWEA would never have published the report.

-the timing is off. The effective date of the reports is May, 2009, but if you really wanted to see a change in value you would have to look at values from before the wind turbine development was announced. In the case of Port Alma (the study area) that would have to have been prior to 2004.

-the only variable they used was “viewshed” or in other words, the ability to see the turbines. Despite citing two documents, including the Frey and Hanning report, that deal with noise, noise was never taken seriously in the report.

Needless to say, the report concludes that “It cannot be said that rural residential houses located in a viewshed sold for lower prices.”

Gulden concludes: “It is not surprising that the wind industry will play up this report for all it is worth. …I am guessing nobody will read past the summary to find out just how flawed this report is. That sad thing is, they’re probably right.”

You can read Wayne Gulden’s critique of the Canning-Simmons report here:

http://amherstislandwindinfo.com/canning-critique.pdf

And the report itself is here:

Canning-SimmonsProperty Value Report – Final – February 4, 2010

To contact the North Gower Wind Action Group, email northgowerwindactiongroup@yahoo.ca, mail P O Box 485 North Gower K0A 2T0 or fax 613-489-3868.

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