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7/6/11 Want to buy a house in a wind farm? Why not? AND What problem with wind power?

´╗┐´╗┐STUDY FINDS WIND TURBINES CAN BE TOUGH ON NEIGHBORS PROPERTY VALUES

READ ENTIRE STORY AT SOURCE: The Post-Standard, www.syracuse.com

July 6, 2011

By Charles McChesney 

Potsdam, NY — Wind farms reduced the value of nearby real estate in two Northern New York counties, but not in a third.

Martin D. Heintzelman and Carrie M. Tuttle, of Clarkson University, studied 11,331 real estate transactions over nine years and found that the value of property near wind turbines dropped in Clinton and Franklin counties. But they found no impact in Lewis County.

The paper they produced, “Values in the Wind: A Hedonic Analysis of WindPower Facilities,” hasn’t been finalized, Heintzelman said, but an earlier version has been shared by opponents of wind farms. (Hedonic is a economic term referring to estimating value or utility).

A March version of the paper, distributed by opponents of a wind-farm proposal for Cape Vincent in Jefferson County, found an overall decrease in values among properties neighboring wind turbines in Clinton, Franklin and Lewis counties.

But Heintzelman said the research was reviewed, and combining the counties, it turned out, “was not a reasonable approach.”

The refined findings are, he said, “somewhat more nuanced.”

Heintzelman said past research, including a study of Madison County, showed wind farms had little or no impact on real estate values. But he found that hard to believe.

“Anytime you put a large industrial or manufacturing facility in someone’s backyard,” he said, there is bound to be some impact.

So he and Tuttle, a graduate student, statistically analyzed real estate data, mostly from the state Office of Real Property Services.

They found that placing a wind turbine a half mile from the average property in Franklin or Clinton counties would result in a loss of property value of $10,793 to $19,046. The impact drops off as properties become more distant, he said. At the distance of three miles, the impact is $2,500 to $9,800.

But Lewis County, with the 321-megawatt Maple Ridge Wind Farm, was different. “Lewis County does not see negative impacts,” Heintzelman said.

Asked whether the study’s findings hold lessons for communities weighing wind-power projects, Heintzelman said it could be worth considering how those who have wind turbines near, but not on, their property might be compensated if they see their real estate drop in value.

Other than that, he said, “Sadly, no, I don’t think I have any specific advice.”

[Click here to download the study ,courtesy of National Wind Watch


THE REALITY OF WIND POWER

 energy.aol.com 27 June 2011 By Margaret Ryan,

Wind turbines cost more to operate and maintain than planned, often have poor reliability, and place costly strains on other generators warns one early wind adopter, but so far the public is willing to bear the costs.

Kevin Gaden, wholesale power director for the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN) and NMPP Energy, a public power consortium covering parts of Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming and Colorado, detailed his members’ experiences at the American Public Power Association conference in Washington last week.

Gaden said his members decided a decade ago that renewable energy was coming and they wanted to gain experience in the sector. They found their customers embraced the idea, and readily agreed to pay more to get renewable power.

MEAN now gets 5% of its electricity from five wind facilities, including one in South Dakota that averages more than 40% capacity factor, far better than the U.S. average of 30%.

But Gaden warned a packed conference session that public perception of wind has not caught up with the realities of operating wind in a commercial generating system. While newer turbine designs and engineering have improved, he said, “Overall reliability is less than advertised.”

Turbines are still faulting on issues like finding the right lubricating oil for the Nebraska climate, Gaden said. Maintenance is costly because specialized equipment and personnel have to be brought to remote wind sites, making long-term relations with a reliable turbine supplier a must.

When they’re damaged by things like lightning strikes, repairs can require a crane that can reach the turbine, 200-300 feet above the prairie, at $1,000 an hour, he said.

State renewable energy credits, seen by renewables advocates as a way to compensate for higher costs, sell for $1 apiece and make little difference, he said.

As in other parts of the country, wind is often plentiful at night and not available during the day, and drops off during summer peaks, so wind power isn’t there when it is most needed. Gaden said the Great Plains winds track better with consumers’ winter demand.

But that wind variability, with wind often gusting and then calm in quick succession, puts a costly burden on other generators in the system, he said.

Less Than Zero

Interstate grid operators take day-ahead bids for hourly power and fill their anticipated needs with the cheapest bids first. But all generators are paid the same amount as the highest bid taken. Gaden said wind operators benefit from tax credits for every megawatt-hour generated, so they bid into the system at zero or less. That ensures their generation will be taken, and they will get the price paid conventional generators.

That means generation from baseload units is only partially bought, and sometimes large units have to cycle up and down to accommodate the wind. This type of operation makes them far less efficient than the consistent operation they were designed for, and the increased wear and tear raises maintenance costs.

Gaden noted grid operators, who must keep the power supply stable, are looking at creating regional “energy imbalance markets” to account for the extra costs of offsetting renewable variability. Gaden said federal researchers had estimated ancillary resource costs at $2 per megawatt-hour, but in Nebraska, it turned out to cost $4.60.

Gaden said he’d asked Department of Energy experts how much carbon emissions were saved by wind, net of the less efficient operation forced on conventional fossil units. The answer, he said, was “we don’t know,” but the experts acknowledged there is an impact.

In the future, Gaden said, his public power members will probably continue to buy small shares of electricity from large wind projects, as long as customers want it.

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