“Opponents of the development of large solar installations in rural and suburban Rhode Island argue that sprawling tracts of photovoltaic panels mar the character of their communities.
They worry that in many cases construction of the industrial energy projects mean clear-cutting acres of woodlands or building in open fields, leading to a loss of prime green space.
Now, it looks like they have something else to be concerned about.
After analyzing thousands of property sales in Rhode Island and Massachusetts over a decade and a half, economists at the University of Rhode Island have concluded that solar development is having a negative impact on nearby home values.
Corey Lang, associate professor of natural resource economics, and doctoral student Vasundhara Gaur found that prices of homes within a mile of a solar installation declined by 1.7%. Homes within a tenth of a mile went down by 7%.
Some of the largest impacts were in suburban communities when a solar project was built on a farm or forested property. In those instances, housing prices within a mile of the array dropped by 5%.
“In those non-rural areas there aren’t many large blocks of farmland or forestland,” Lang said. “It’s a scarce resource. When that’s developed into solar, it’s felt by the community. You’re losing green space and also adding an industrial viewscape.””
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Kuffner, Alex. Providence Journal 30 September 2020.