By Lisa Joy
The Alberta Climate Leadership Plan (ACL), which aims to end coal-fired electricity generation facilities by 2030, has companies like Capital Power scrambling to meet the province’s increased power needs.
To meet this increased need, Capital Power applied with the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) for Halkirk 2 that would see 74 wind turbine generators, a collector system and a substation erected five miles north of Halkirk. Halkirk 2 would generate 148 megawatts and meet the needs of about 500,000 Alberta homes annually. Halkirk 2 is in addition to the current Halkirk Wind Farm that has 83 turbines.
Meeting the increased power needs in cities, however, is creating land use conflicts in rural areas. The Battle River Group (BRG) is fighting Capital Power’s application for Halkirk 2. They want Paintearth County to make the wind turbine setback 1.5 km from homes instead of the proposed 500 metres. The BRG is also concerned about the wind turbines decreasing their property value.
They might be onto something.
Real estate and appraisal businesses maintain that wind power does affect property values. Michael McCann of McCann Appraisal, LLC out of Chicago said that “residential property values are adversely and measurably impacted by close-proximity of industrial-scale wind energy turbine projects to the residential properties,” if they are up to 3.2 km away. They decrease a property’s value by 35 to 40 per cent.
According to the London School of Economics, wind farms decrease property value by up to 12 per cent if the home is within a two km radius and can even affect a property’s value up to 14 km away from the home.
In fact, the Ontario Superior Court ruled in 2013 that landowners living near large wind farms suffer from lower property values. That court said it decreased property values by 22 to 55 per cent.
Clearly, wind turbines do affect landowners’ property values. Paintearth County proposes a 500-metre setback from homes. The landowners want a 1.5 km setback. Given that studies prove property values decrease when wind turbines are two km from homes, is a 1.5 km setback even enough?