Because 99% of wind projects are built on private land, being a good neighbor isn’t only the right thing to do, it’s also a necessary business strategy. Wind developers rely on the support of host communities because without it, they simply can’t get projects built. That means being a trusted, long-term partner to host communities is baked into their business plans. And the data shows they’re finding success in this:
- The Lawrence Berkeley National Lab finds 1.3 million homes are within five miles of a wind turbine. A representative survey of these households finds 92% of people report positive or neutral experiences. That means the people with direct, firsthand experience living near wind farms overwhelmingly report projects are not having a negative impact in their communities.
- Nationwide, strong bipartisan majorities support increasing our share of clean energy. A Pew poll from this past June for example finds 85% of Americans want to see more wind projects come online.
When developing ordinances for wind projects, regulators evaluate issues such as sounds, shadow flicker, decommissioning, and setbacks, among others. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) also evaluate proposed wind projects to ensure aviation safety and to confirm proposed projects won’t impact military installations.
How do wind projects affect property values?
Wind power is a driver for economic development in host communities and supports local municipal services that benefit all property owners. Long-term, comprehensive studies show wind power doesn’t affect property values.
Human development of all kinds—not just wind power development—can both positively and negatively affect property values. A period of uncertainty is common to any type of economic development activity. Fortunately, many studies have shown that wind power either increases or does not negatively affect the value of homes with turbines on the property. And importantly, it does not affect nearby neighbors’ property values long-term.
The most comprehensive study to date, published in a peer-reviewed journal in 2015 by researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL), the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Texas A&M University and San Diego State University, and involving data from more than 50,000 home sales among 27 counties in nine U.S. states concludes: “We find no statistical evidence that home values near turbines were affected in the turbine post-construction or post-announcement/pre-construction periods.” Lawrence Berkley National Lab has conducted two other major studies on this topic (in 2009 and 2013), and in all cases, found no statistical evidence that operating wind turbines have had any measurable impact on home sales prices.
Wind projects benefit all local property owners by driving economic investment and tax revenue. These funds improve roads, schools, and community services, while also keeping local taxes low—all factors that can positively influence property values.
What happens to wind turbine blades when they reach the end of their useful life?
Sustainability and good stewardship are core values for the U.S. wind industry. When a wind turbine reaches the end of its 20 to 30-year lifespan, most of its material, like steel, has substantial salvage value and is recyclable. Other components, like the blades, require different strategies.
The U.S. wind industry, joined by scientists, researchers, national laboratories, and environmental collaborators, is moving ahead with innovative methods to repurpose turbine blades. At the end of their decades-long lifetime of providing clean, emissions-free energy, the blades are a perfect fit for pedestrian bridges, playground equipment, public benches, signage, powerline structures, and highway sound barriers. Scientists are modeling how blades can even be used to replace roofing for homes.
Wind turbine blades on average are 85% recoverable and efforts are underway to solve the technical challenges of turbine blade recycling. Research from groups like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, the American Composites Manufacturers Association, and the Electric Power Research Institute is leading to advanced recycling technologies, such as recyclable blade resin. Eventually, blade components may also be recycled to manufacture new blades, creating a circular economy of use.
Entrepreneurs are also exploring the business opportunities recycling wind turbine blades can create. Several startups are developing processes to break down the blades and refabricate them into other useful products, including decking, insulation, building panels, railroad ties, pallets, particle boards, and cars.
It’s important to put wind turbine blades into context—blades represent a vanishingly small portion of U.S. landfills and are among the least environmentally harmful materials entering landfills. The Electric Power Research Institute estimates there will be 2.1-4 million tons of cumulative blades put in landfills between 2020 and 2050. In comparison, 139 million tons of U.S. municipal solid waste went to landfills in 2017 alone. On an annual basis, wind turbine blades make up as little as 1/2000th, or 0.05 percent, of the volume going into landfills. Plastic plates and cups alone make up roughly 10 times as much.
Is it safe to live near a wind farm?
Wind farms help make the air we breathe cleaner and healthier, and millions of people safely live and work near wind farms every day. The use of wind power reduces U.S. healthcare costs by $8 billion each year through avoided air pollution that triggers smog and asthma attacks.
Millions of people around the world live and work near operating wind turbines without adverse health effects, and more than 20 credible, peer-reviewed scientific studies and various government reports in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom find wind farms pose no negative health effects. According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 92% of people living within five miles of a wind turbine report positive or neutral experiences.
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