Last week I was reading of an Australian study, by a Professor Gary Wittert, which had shown sleeping pill usage for those living near wind turbines was no greater than the general population . The study compared those living within 10 km of turbines with those living more than 10 km away. There have been similar studies with property values using a 5 mile or 10 km radius that showed property values are not affected by wind turbines. Had you ever thought why they pick a 10 km radius?
Consider this graphic. It shows 1 km bands with the calculated area for each band shown in blue.
Let’s keep it easy and assume that households are evenly distributed and there is one household for every 10 square kilometers.
So, within 2 km (the two innermost bands) of the turbine, the area is 3.1 + 9.4 km² (=12.5 km²) which would represent 1.2 households.
Now let’s consider the two outermost (9 km and 10 km) bands. The area of these bands is 53.4 + 59.7 km² (=113.1 km²) which represents 11.3 households. So the outermost bands have about TEN TIMES the number of households of those living within 2 km, making sure that the contribution of the inner bands is diluted, swamped, covered up or however else you would describe it.
Or consider if you live within 2 km of a turbine. The outer bands of those living from 2–10 km from the turbine adds up to 301.6 km², which would represent 30.1 households – which is 24 TIMES the number of households within 2 km.
No wonder your voice is being “drowned out”. The bigger the circle, the more “dilution” occurs.
Add this to the list of things where “size matters”, and next time you see a study like this, consider the radius and area that was chosen. The choice of the circle size plays a major role in the result obtained and speaks volumes about the motivation of the author.
by Alec Salt, Professor, Department of Otolaryngology, Washington University School of Medicine
One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.- George Orwell
They didn’t come to talk about industrial wind turbines. Rather, the two emissaries from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC)—an agency of the province of Ontario—came to apologize.
MPAC is the government agency that determines the value of your home or property for municipal taxation purposes. They know they do a poor job of it. They have such low confidence in their ability to assess the value of your home, particularly in rural, heterogeneous neighbourhoods, one phone call is often all it takes to have an assessment reduced.
So the MPAC folks came to Shire Hall to say they are sorry and want to do better. Part of a dog-and-pony-apology tour across Ontario. They came with plans to improve the way they, and clerks in municipalities across the province, might work together better.
County council members, however, wanted to know about industrial wind turbines. Specifically, they wanted to know the impact on property values of 50-storey machines erected in a scenic rural shoreline. The MPAC folks were prepared for the question. They get it a lot.
Leaning heavily on MPAC’s own study based on 2012 data, the representatives assured council industrial wind turbines nearby had “no statistically significant impact on sale prices.” When it conducted the analysis, the provincial agency knew its findings would meet with a skeptical reception, so it hired an American consultant to examine the data too. It, however, found a statistically significant impact lowering the sale prices of homes near industrial wind turbines, but that the impact was small.
That was the information shared with council. Council believed it was true.
Ed and Gail Kenney have been battling MPAC for seven years. In 2008, the couple’s Wolfe Island home was valued at $200,000. The following year, 86 industrial wind turbines sprouted around his home. Fluctuating pressure caused by the turbines makes Ed uncomfortable and edgy—he finds it difficult to sleep. Yet he doesn’t want to move.
That same year MPAC determined the value of the Kenneys’ home had risen to $375,000—driving their municipal taxes much higher. They appealed. If anything, the value of their home was less because of the turbines, not more. It took several years and a small fortune, yet they lost their appeal.
“The board found that based on the evidence, in this case, there appeared to be no evidence of any negative impact to the value of the property,” concluded the MPAC appeal panel.
The case raised serious questions about how MPAC conducts its evaluations. The hard data appeared to contradict its conclusion. A small corps of amateurs pored over the data. They found a correlation between a decline in sale prices and proximity to industrial wind turbines. But they were just raising more questions. There was no hard evidence or academic research contradicting MPAC. Until now.
A new study prepared by Clarkson University and Nanos Research paints a very different picture of what happened as a result of the industrial wind turbines on Wolfe Island.
The Clarkson-Nanos study concludes that a massive wind project proposed for Galloo Island— part of a chain of islands that includes the Duck Islands stretching from Prince Edward Point to Henderson, New York—will likely depress property values of homes with a view of the turbines. The researchers calculate the impact is likely to be more than $40 million while providing the community with little value in return.
But surely the most surprising aspect of their research, for Ontario residents at least, was what they learned about property values directly across from Wolfe Island.
Clarkson-Nanos found that properties with a view of the western side of Wolfe Island, in and around Cape Vincent, prior to turbines being built, commanded a premium of about 10 per cent relative to similar properties. After the turbines were constructed, however, they found a “strong negative impact” on property values. Further, their analysis determined that industrial wind turbines reduce property values on the American mainland by about 15 per cent.
So let’s get this straight. MPAC and its consultant couldn’t detect a significant impact on property values on homes in the shadow of these looming mechanical giants—yet across the channel, an independent research body found homes are worth far less because their view includes industrial wind turbines.
It is obvious to those with eyes that industrial wind turbines impair property values. It is surely why the province wouldn’t tolerate an appeal based on economic or property losses as a result of an industrial wind project located nearby.
Yet the provincial government continues to compel its agencies to tell the public a different story…..
Several months ago Stewart Fast, a new professor at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, undertook a study of why southern Ontario was such a hotbed of anti wind energy sentiments. His conclusions were interesting, and I’ll be having more to say about them in a future posting. As part of his study he looked at property values and in particular he looked at MPAC (the Ontario real estate assessors), Wolfe Island and the property assessment reductions thereon.
As it happens, I had also looked at MPAC and Wolfe Island and posted on it about 18 months ago. It seems that Fast and I used the same FOIA-obtained spreadsheet. My main conclusion was that there seemed to be a large number of large reductions on Wolfe Island, but there wasn’t enough of a pattern to convincingly tie the reductions to the 86 wind turbines on Wolfe’s west end.
I’ve also posted on MPAC and property assessments in a 4-part series. My main conclusion, contained in part 1′s section, was that MPAC seemed to be hiding the reductions by lowering the values in neighborhoods that just coincidentally happened to be around wind turbines, but not formally incorporating distance to a wind turbine into their regressions.
What Dr. Fast’s work added to mine was that (1) he was able to group MPAC’s reductions on Wolfe Island by their distance to the nearest wind turbine, and (2) he reminded me of how to usechi-square to test the differences between the bands for statistical significance. The quick summary is that MPAC has been providing reductions to properties close to wind turbines significantly more often that those further away. And I’m not using the word “significantly” in some fuzzy qualitative manner – I mean “significantly” in the hard statistical quantitative manner. In other words, the odds of the getting a wind-turbine-centered pattern just randomly are vanishingly small. Wolfe Island provides a good hard-to-refute example of how MPAC is finessing the numbers to deny the obvious. Continue reading MPAC and Wolfe Island, again.→