Even with the new proposed regulations surrounding their installations, the debate about wind turbines continue to rage in Ontario and certainly here in the Blue Mountain area.
A recent column by Bob Aaron in the Toronto Star caught my attention as he described the case of a taxpayer who challenged the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) in September, 2008. (How did we miss that!?) This case set a landmark precedent attaching a dollar value to potential impacts of industrial wind installations on surrounding land owners.
A fellow by the name of Paul Thompson of Amaranth Township in the Shelburne area, appealed the assessed value of his home on the basis that it was located opposite a hydro substation that served an area wind farm. His appeal was not actually based on the existence of the turbines but rather, on the noise produced by the substation. He entered evidence that showed it emitted noise at a decibel level exceeding the normally acceptable range.
In its ruling, the board member wrote that, "The Board finds that the constant hum alleged by Mr. Thompson does exist and significantly reduces the current value of the subject property." They also said, "Having heard this nuisance, apparently sanctioned by the Municipality, the Board accepts Mr. Thompson's testimony that the stigma of noise contamination has a negative impact on the value and marketability of the property, and that after learning of the hum, prospective purchasers will quickly lose interest in purchasing the property. The Board is satisfied that a very substantial reduction is warranted."
The Board cut Mr. Thompsons assessed value of his property in half from $255,000 to $127,000. What I find troubling about this case is that the number was not quantified and I read no evidence to suggest what the new property value should be. Does this mean that a property affected by noise is impacted by $127,000 in that location? Is that the new number? If the house were originally valued at $150,000 or at $750,000, how would the value have changed?
Only time will answer the question as the free market adjusts for new conditions emerging in a new world.
The map featured here comes from the Canadian Wind Energy Association website which lists on the site, all of the current wind farm operations in Canada.