Wind farms have no measurable effect on nearby property values, according to a government report published Wednesday.
In the latest study, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory spent three years examining nearly 7,500 sales of homes in 10 communities near two dozen wind farms in nine states.
The findings, however, are unlikely to cool the debate over the placement of massive wind turbines which to some represent progress, but to others an intrusion.
Questions about the integrity of the $500,000 Berkeley study were aired even before the report was released.
New energy infrastructure almost always runs into opposition, and in many cases for good reason.
There is a lot of research showing that nearby coal-fired power plants, transmission lines or other permanent fixtures can suck the value out of a home.
The Berkeley study, however, is not the first to show that wind turbines might be different, and previous studies have not tamped down opposition.
About 150 miles south of Denver in the tiny town of La Veta, many believe a proposed 7,000 acre wind farm would forever alter the postcard view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
Two other projects have been proposed as well.
Mayor Mickey Schmidt is aware of previous studies, but says he still believes it's just common sense that wind turbines will hurt property values when it is the mountain vistas that bring many people to La Veta.
Researchers at the Berkeley National Laboratory looked at homes 800 feet to five miles from wind farms. About 1,000 sales involved homes that had views of the turbines, including sight lines through trees or just blade tips.
Researchers say the took into account the recession and other characteristics such as the number of bedrooms in a home or location of schools, said Ryan Wiser, a study co-author and project manager for the Berkeley Lab.
"That's not to say there are not individual homes or small groups of homes that have been impacted by the presence of wind projects," Wiser said.
If there is an impact, Wiser said, the frequency was to small to measure statistically.
Conflicts will likely become more frequent in coming years. About 1,649 megawatts of capacity from wind farms was added from July through September — enough to power 480,000 average households. That is about 18 percent more than the same period last year and more projects are coming on line next year.
Texas dwarfs any other state as far as wind power goes. Not far from Big Spring, about 300 miles west of Dallas, hundreds of turbines churn out power at one of the biggest wind farms in the country, without much effect on home prices, said real estate agent Sherri Key.
Some potential buyers say turbines are too noisy, while others say "they're so gorgeous," said Key.