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Property values hurt by turbines, study

BY ANDREW SMITH
BANNER STAFF

NORTH PERTH – A recent study from Lansink Appraisals and Consulting is putting new light on the impact industrial wind turbines have on the value of neighbouring properties.

Real estate appraiser Ben Lansink said his interest in wind turbines was raised after reading recent press coverage of turbines, and that a study was in line with a requirement with the Appraisal Institute of Canada to remain current on developing issues.

“I decided to do a study for the same reason I did the other studies, and that is to get experience credits as part of my education program,” he said. “Nobody paid me and nobody put me up to it.”

Lansink said his attention was brought to the Shelburne area, where the 133-turbine Melancthon Wind Facility went into operation in 2006, owned by TransAlta Corporation.

“I had heard there had been problems in Melancthon, so I did a registry search of the entire township and what I found were these five sales and re-sales by the wind turbine company,” Lansink said.

Lansink found that between 2005 and 2007, Canadian Hydro Developers Inc., a subsidiary of TransAlta Corporation, purchased five properties and then re-sold these properties between 2009 and 2012. Lansink stressed that none of the properties in the study had any turbines erected on it. Looking at the resale of the properties, Lansink found the average price diminution of the five properties amounted to 38.8 per cent the market value, with the largest loss of 58.5 per cent.

The study notes that it appears the house on the property was demolished by Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. prior to making the sale.

While conducting the study, Lansink said he was surprised to find easements registered on the titles of the properties, where the wind company acknowledges problems such as flicker and noise from the turbines, preventing the buyer from pursuing any legal action related to the turbines.

“I was very surprised to see that,” he said. “Why would a generating company, a wind turbine company admit and have a buyer sign something they’ve prepared that basically says we know these cause problems?”

When reached for a comment, representatives for Invenergy Canada referred The Banner to the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) statement on the study, which identified a number of concerns with the study.

“It is neither fair nor appropriate to draw from a single case study the general conclusion that wind energy is directly responsible for significant declines in property value,” said Chris Forrest, vice-president of communications and public affairs. “The fact is the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) is not altering property assessments in Ontario as a result of wind energy projects.”

Lansink said he will continue to investigate wind turbines further, as he is aware of several situations where properties were put on the market with potential buyers, only to have interest drop off when it was later discovered a wind turbine project was proposed for the community.

“The marketplace is now just getting accustomed to these things and reacting to them,” Lansink said.

Lansink said that relying on MPAC to adjust property values based on neighbouring wind turbines is unreliable, as MPAC has not studied turbines in any detail yet, and that complaints are heard by the Assessment Review Board.

“As I understand it, there are a lot of complaints being filed now, and that will wind its way through the system,” Lansink said. “We haven’t seen the end of this, it’s just starting.”

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