Overhead High Voltage Lines Lower Property Values

RETA has provided evidence in the past that overhead high voltage power lines significantly lower adjacent property values, and our researchers have prepared a Fact Sheet on the subject.

Studies and appraisals continue to be released that confirm the negative impacts of overhead power lines on property values. The New Hampshire News reports on several recent professional appraisals that indicate property devaluation of anywhere from 15% to 91%, depending on the specific circumstances and locations. In relation to the proposed controversial Northern Pass high voltage line in New Hampshire’s North Country, one 68-page appraisal prepared by James Walker concluded that the towers and lines would result in a 135-acre parcel of rural land losing about 63% of its value. A 12.5-acre building site would lose about 91% of its value. Property devaluation was attributed primarily to the high voltage lines ruining the picturesque and much-sought-after viewscapes from these properties.

Andrew Smith, the owner of Peabody & Smith Realty in Franconia, New Hampshire, wrote to State Senator Jeanie Forrester that without a doubt the proposed Northern Pass power line is having “a substantial negative impact” on property. (Senator Forrester is heading up a commission studying the benefits of burying high voltage power lines.) Smith wrote, “The impact has ranged from making the property essentially unsalable, to value reductions between 25% to 50%. Due to the fear of the future impact, more often than not the informed buyer has chosen to move onto other properties, and not making offers of any kind on the tainted property.”

Another study conducted by an appraiser in Montana, James Chalmers, found a reduction in value of about 15% on some residential property within 1,000 feet of overhead high voltage lines. In another case, the appraiser found the value of a residential parcel dropped 50%. The appraiser was interviewed and said high voltage towers are “not an asset” and he wouldn’t want them in his backyard. He also said he could imagine the towers causing a greater loss in value in a worst-case scenario. The appraiser went on to say, “If it is basically a view lot and your view is down the valley and you string transmission lines across that valley right in the middle of the view shed and that becomes kind of the dominant feature of the view, I can easily imagine your $200,000 second home might only be a $75,000 second home or a $100,000 second home – something like that.”

Patricia Kennedy, a realtor in the Washington, D.C. area, recently wrote the following on her blog: “…I do know that there are some buyers who will not consider a house that is near either power lines or radio or television towers. So I look at this type of location as just one more thing for people to think about. It’s like living on a busy street or across from a gas station. When you are buying a home, you might not care. You might even be able to get a great price. But keep in mind that when it is time to sell, you might wind up getting a price lower than what one would pay for a similar home without the power/tower issues.”

Now it shouldn’t surprise anyone that electricity transmission companies do not want to admit to the fact that their above-ground high voltage power lines devalue neighbouring properties. They hire appraisers to try and convince the public, governments and electricity regulators that their unsightly overhead high voltage lines and towers have either no impact or only minor impacts on nearby property values. Some transmission companies even go so far as to try and discredit any appraisers who present data to confirm the negative impacts of overhead lines on property values.

One such glaring example is the Northern Pass power line proponent’s complaint to state regulators and New Hampshire’s Real Estate Appraiser Board about the appraisals cited above that indicated the Northern Pass line would diminish property values from 63% to 91%. These complaints are almost beyond belief, and RETA encourages you to read the details in the New Hampshire News. Those concerned about the many negative impacts of the Northern Pass line are worried that there is a larger strategy at work by Northern Pass Transmission LLC* – make other appraisers think twice before concluding the Northern Pass line will hurt property values. One Columbia lawyer said, “I think they are out to frighten any other appraisers from doing work for land owners who are interested in knowing how much value they are going to lose by having land in the proximity of the transmission line.”

There are many other examples of intimidation by transmission companies and attempts to discredit professionals who present data that indicate negative impacts of overhead power lines, including property devaluation. In other words, when the facts do not support what transmission companies say, they resort to these kinds of tactics. We will continue to keep our readers informed of such instances.

* The Northern Pass power lines and facilities in New Hampshire will be owned by Northern Pass Transmission LLC, which is essentially a wholly-owned subsidiary of Northeast Utilities and NSTAR, through a number of other companies.

~ by RETA on November 2, 2012.

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