With recent upswings in energy prices and increased concern over global warming, wind energy and wind farming have become hot topics. Wind power is one of the fastest growing sources of electricity generation. While much past growth has taken place in Europe (Denmark derives up to 20% of its electricity from wind), wind power has recently made inroads domestically. In the U.S., more than 25,000 turbines produce 17 GW of electricity-generating capacity, enough to power 4.5 million homes. Total capacity rose 45 percent last year and is forecast to nearly triple by 2012. Right now, only one percent of the country’s electricity comes from wind, but government and industry leaders want to see that share hit 20 percent by 2030, both to boost the supply of carbon-free energy and to create green-collar jobs.
As wind farms spread, local opposition to the massive towers (some over 400 ft tall) is appearing more and more. Residents not only oppose the turbines for aesthetic reasons, they also worry how wind farms will impact property values. Although research remains scant, wind farms appear have a minimal or at most transitory impact on real estate. To help you understand this topic, NAR has created a field guide which explores the current state of the industry, examines real estate-related research, provides wind maps and regulations to give an indication of where future projects might unfold, and gives resources for further study.
update – Sept. 2014:
Since this blog post was written, further academic studies have been published that examine the impact of wind farms on nearby property values, with both sides finding support. The field guide has been updated to reflect this new research.