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Source: Watertown Daily Times

Scientists, advocates tout information for developing wind power at confrontational session in Cape Vincent

BY NANCY MADSEN
TIMES STAFF WRITER

Posted: September 1, 2011
Originally Published: September 1, 2011

CAPE VINCENT — Environmental advocates and scientists tried to present scientific studies on wind power development on Wednesday night, but much of it fell on deaf ears.

Throughout the two-hour presentation and question-and-answer period, there were occasional outbursts by those opposed to local wind power development, challenging the presentations. More than 100 people came to the town’s recreation hall for the meeting.

“We came to offer the latest scientific information to people — it’s all out there for people to look at,” said Carol E. Murphy, executive director for the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, Albany. “But people won’t believe it if they don’t want to believe it.”

The New York Wind Education Collaborative started a statewide tour of places where wind power projects are proposed in the town on Wednesday night. The collaborative is a conglomeration of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York; Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Farmingdale; and Pace Energy and Climate Center at Pace Law School, Westchester.

The collaborative plans to bring experts to 10 or 20 other locations in New York, an initiative that is supported by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

“We have environmentalists and academics working together to provide facts about wind power development,” said Brian P. Smith, communications and program director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “That’s why we came to Jefferson County, to get into the community and provide accurate information through a presentation.”

Mark A. Thayer, economics professor at San Diego State University, defended a national study on property values around wind farms during “The Impact of Wind Power Projects on Residential Property Values in the United States: A Multi-Site Hedonic Analysis.” U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory paid for the study, whose lead writer was Ben Hoen.

Local opponents to wind power have said the study is so broad that it misses any distinctions in the regions or data.

The 7,459 residential home sales showed no statistically significant effect of turbines from nearby wind farms.

“The percentage of homes that sold within a mile compared to those outside a mile showed no change,” said Mr. Thayer, who has a doctorate degree in economics, after a challenge from the audience offered that homes may just not sell.

Since the massive national study, other peer-reviewed studies have shown similar results, he said, except that properties did sell for less after a project was announced but before it was built. Even a study from a Clarkson University professor, which claimed to show depressed property values, was using very recent data before wind farms were complete in Clinton and Franklin counties. But data from Lewis County didn’t show any change, because it had more post-construction samples, he said.

“All of the other studies find the exact same thing,” he said. “You cannot say there’s an impact.”

Others who claim to find harm to residential property prices are not using the proper hedonic method, Mr. Thayer said. A report from McCann Appraisal LLC told Cape Vincent’s wind economics committee to expect 40 percent depression of sales prices for homes within two miles of turbines.

“Forty percent is laughable in size,” Mr. Thayer said in an interview before the event. “Cape Vincent looks very much like other facilities with a developed area outside of the wind farm. It looks like Mason County, Michigan, right on Lake Michigan, with views out to the water.”