UPDATED with new information on livestock feed lot:
A common complaint of anti-wind activists is that wind farms decrease the property values for landowners near them.
Those complaints were echoed again at a Feb. 5 rally in Trufant, Mich., in which speakers claimed that wind turbines drove down property values.
“Absolutely they can hurt your home values,” real estate agent Marcy Myers told the rally crowd. “But you can answer this for yourself. Would you buy a home on Punch Street for $200,000, four bedrooms, three baths, two acres, garage? I’d say yes. I can sell that to a buyer all day long for $200,000.”
But when Myers asked the crowd if they would buy that home next to a wind farm, they muttered, “No, no.”
Myers also cited an unspecified home in Alma, Mich., that should have sold for $80,000 but only sold for $31,500. She later said that home was in foreclosure.
C&BP examined the list of 207 recent home sales by Myers’ company, Your Team Realty, on the real estate website Zillow and found a May 2021 sale for a home that Myers sold on W. Jefferson Road in Alma for $31,500.
That home is the only one in the list of 207 homes sold by Your Team Realty that sold for that price in the last 12 years, according to the company’s record on Zillow.
County real estate records show the home sold in October 2011 for $53,000 and in April 2019 for $45,000.
An examination of aerial photos of the property on Google Maps indicates a more likely reason for the home has lost value beyond its poor condition and unpaved driveway: It sits across the street from a large livestock feed lot.
In 2012, according to a Michigan State University report, Courter Farms produced 51,739 tons of waste, the third-largest production of waste in the state.
Myers did not respond to requests for comment sent to her real estate office.
Real estate records: Turbines don’t harm property values
An analysis of public tax records and private real estate listings shows that the proximity of wind turbines does not drive down property values in the Michigan communities that have them.
Instead, data show, home prices have risen steadily in the communities that have wind farms, such as in Gratiot County, which has six wind farms:
- A home in Ithaca, which is near two wind farms, is listed for $299,900, an increase of almost $70,000 from the last time it sold in 2019. In 2013, that same home sold for $160,000, according to listing information on Zillow.com. That home’s tax assessments have risen from $80,300 in 2019 to $84,900, according to Gratiot County property records. That home’s tax assessments have risen from $80,300 in 2019 to $84,900, according to Gratiot County property records.
- A home in Middleton, which is also near Gratiot County wind farms, has seen its assessed value rise from $31,300 in 2019 to $37,600, county tax records show. It is now listed for sale at $150,000, according to Zillow.
- A home in the town of Alma in Gratiot County is now listed for $249,900, according to Zillow. It sold for $185,000 in 2020 and $130,000 in 2018. Its assessed value, property records show, rose from $73,100 in 2019 to $79,000.
Even the Isabella County home of anti-wind activist Lou Ann Mogg has risen in assessed value from $40,500 in 2018 to $44,800 in 2020, county property records show. A home down the street from Mogg sold for $130,000 in August 2021, $10,000 more than its asking price when it went on the market two months earlier.
Changing values for Illinois homes
Wind farm opponents, such as Michigan’s Kevon Martis, often cite a 2010 study from Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., that shows that wind turbines hurt property values.
The website for Martis’ Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition also touts a 2010 study by Illinois property appraiser Michael McCann, which claims a 25 percent to 40 percent decrease in value for properties inside of two miles from a wind farm.
For example, McCann cited a home on Beemerville Road in Compton, Ill, within two miles of the Mendota Hills wind farm. That home, according to his report and county records, sold for $367,000 in 2003. County records show it sold for $450,000 in 2017, and Zillow estimates that it is now worth $524,000, a 16 percent increase.
Even closer to the wind turbines are homes on a cul de sac on Compton’s Brook Meadow Drive, which were developed after 2005. One home sold for $174,000 in 2016 and again last year for $289,000, a 65 percent increase in five years.
Meanwhile, homes on Ogee Road in nearby Earlville, Ill. that McCann said had higher values because they were more than two miles from the wind farms actually declined in value according to Zillow estimates. One home, which McCann and County records show sold for $285,000 in 2004 is now worth $238,100, according to Zillow estimates.
Illinois professional license records show that McCann’s appraisal license expired on Sept. 30, 2017. McCann did not respond to requests for comment.
There are also multiple other reports that undercut claims that wind farms lower property values, including studies in 2009, 2013 and 2021 by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories and a 2016 report from Massachusetts.
Mike Mikus is a reporter and Ray Locker the executive director for Checks and Balances Project, an investigative watchdog blog holding government officials, lobbyists, and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP is provided by Renew American Prosperity and individual donors.
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