Following the Money
Confirmation that wind turbines in Fairhaven and Kingston violate DEP noise guidelines surfaced this week. Resident complaints have already resulted in lawsuits–or soon will. Noting the expense of litigation, Laura Griffin’s Guest Editorial in the Milton Times, (“Time for Debate on Wind Turbine” 5/23/2013) says
“…lawsuits about health and noise are dogging turbine projects across the state. Falmouth even considered dismantling its turbine.
Litigation costs more than wind power earns, so the lost time and the litigation may have worked in [Milton’s] favor. What’s needed is a public discussion and that’s never been the case with the wind turbine.”
The Milton turbine is currently on hold since a binding arbitration order was issued, ruling that the turbine cannot be run during hours when golfers are present at the Quarry Hills Golf Course on the Quincy/Milton line.
Griffin spells out the costs to date: “As of May 15, the town had spent more than $1 million on the wind turbine project and a quarter of that or $246,000 has been for legal fees.”
Costs for turbine curtailment and litigation are only two pieces of the economic puzzle. A third element is lost value in people’s property.
In the wake of Falmouth’s defeat of Question 2 on how to finance dismantling the town-owned turbines, Neil Andersen challenged the town to “‘Deal with us [abutters]. If you’re going to buy my house, do it. Let me put an end to this hell.'” According to Brent Runyon, reporting for The Enterprise (“Neighbors React to Town’s Vote to Not Dismantle Wind Turbines” 5/24/2013), Andersen’s home is assessed at $525,400.
Good luck getting that kind of money any time soon.
Ariel Wittenberg, interviewing homeowners and realtors for the South Coast Today (“Turbines complicate sales of abutting homes” 5/25/2013), got an earful on the turbine effects on property values.
After a few months of “watching buyers come by, look at the turbines and drive away,” [Fairhaven turbine neighbor Justin] Downey took it off the market and said he is now hoping to find someone to rent it.
Realtor Susan Whitehead said she has been trying to sell a property on Weeden Road for two years. That property was put on the market for reasons unrelated to the turbines, but Whitehead said buyers ask about the machines, which are visible across Little Bay, “100 percent of the time.”
“They ask about the noise, they ask about the flicker, and then they don’t put in an offer,” she said.
Because of this, the asking price of the home has dropped from $389,000 to $244,900, Whitehead said.
Trying to sell a home near wind turbines is something Falmouth real estate agent Margaret Gifford said is not easy. There, residents have been battling to shut the turbines off for the past two years, and Gifford said agents swap stories of houses languishing on the market for years at a time, being passed around from broker to broker.