Wind turbines affect your land and your business

June 29, 2011

From Informed Farmers’ Coalition

The Illinois Agricultural Aviation Association (IAAA) has voted NOT to treat farmland on which wind turbines have been installed. President Chuck Holzwarth recently said in an article in Farmweek, “If you put up a wind farm, that ground can never be treated by an airplane.” The IAAA also passed a resolution against treating farmland around wind turbines or adjacent acres as it represents a hazard to the pilot.

Cady Aerial Spray in Deer Grove, Ill., recently sent a letter to its customers stating: “any field within or adjacent to a wind farm that we may deem treatable will likely incur additional cost due to the increased time necessary to make such an application and the risk factors involved.”

According to the current Green River Wind Farm contract, landowners cannot construct any buildings on their land without approval of the developer. “The Landowner covenants and agrees that neither the Landowner nor any Landowner Parties shall: construct or install any structure on the Lands without first meeting with Developer and Developer’s engineers so that Developer and Developer’s engineers can work with Landowner to determine a site for the structure which does not impact Developer’s leasehold Rights and Easements.” [Excerpt from Mainstream’s Green River Contract]

The wind company can place transmission lines and equipment with unlimited amounts of voltage both above and underground. “The Transmission Easement shall permit Mainstream to erect, install, construct, replace, maintain, repair, operate, upgrade, re-locate, increase voltage of, and use multiple underground and/or overhead electrical distribution, collection and/or transmission lines, poles, foundations, conduit, cables, junction boxes, meters and protection equipment including without limitation, all other equipment and facilities related to the transmission of electrical energy and communications (all of which shall also constitute Works) (collectively, “Transmission Equipment”) all together with appropriate rights of way on, along, over, under and across the Lands at such locations as Mainstream shall determine in its sole discretion, and to and from adjacent properties.” [Excerpt from Mainstream’s Green River Contract]

Landowners must sign a non-disturbance agreement to obtain a mortgage, lien or lease to the property. This could significantly impact your ability to obtain a mortgage loan or to refinance your current mortgage.

*Source—Richard S. Porter, Attorney, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Rockford, Ill.

Heavy equipment is damaging to drain tiles. The trucks and cranes working on the turbines weigh up to 200,000 pounds. Damage to tiles can decrease crop production.

Many wind farm companies state that the payment from salvaging the metal will outweigh the cost to decommission the turbine. According to Tom Hewson of Energy Ventures Analysis, Inc., the estimated costs for decommissioning (taking down the turbine) may be inaccurate because the methodologies used by turbine companies vary greatly. Mr. Hewson has personally witnessed turbine companies overestimate salvage values (and therefore underestimate decommissioning costs) by as much as 79 percent.

Concerns about Mainstream’s Proposed Lease Agreement

Contracts from Mainstream on the Green River Wind Farm Project have been reviewed by Attorney Richard S. Porter of the law offices of Hinshaw & Culbertson in Rockford. Porter points out the following issues in the proposed contracts from Mainstream that all landowners should be aware of:

- One-sided contract

- Only Mainstream may unilaterally terminate

- Broad easement grants

- Unlimited access and right to build roads

- No limit on size and scope of facility

- Landowner must consent to easements for any effects attributable to the project, including noise, vibration, shadow flicker, electrical and radio interference, etc.

- Decommissioning: No financial assurances

- Assessment Term can be as long as eight years and the first four years is only for a one-time payment of $1- per acre.

- May be able to tie up land for 70 years and pay just $5 an acre per year

- Unilateral confidentiality

- Easements for turbine effects are for the subject property and all landowner’s adjacent properties.

The Informed Farmers Coalition recommends before you sign:

- Talk with an unbiased attorney to review any contracts.

- Talk to your neighbors—have they really signed?

For more information, call 815-303-4373 or e-mail info@informedfarmers.org.

The Informed Farmers Coalition is a group of Lee County and Bureau County landowners and citizens whose goal is to spread awareness of all facts concerning wind farm development in the area.

From the June 29-July 5, 2011 issue

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