Landowners lease development rights for wind farm development

Landowners face the challenges of long term wind farm development …. opportunities, income and pitfalls.

Over the past several years, Michigan has leaped into the development of wind farms which will help the state build its renewable energy production capacity over the next decade. Landowners continue to be contacted and engaged in efforts to place additional land in long term wind farm development contracts. New areas are being identified every day as in-state and out-of-state developers continue to expand the potential for additional wind farm developments in Michigan.  Landowners can look to wind farm developments as a new crop that will be harvesting the power of wind from their farmland.

The process of signing a long term wind farm development agreement is serious business and will have substantial long term impacts on the farmland and farming systems on that land. It seems too often that landowners look at dollar signs and forget about the impact that a wind farm agreement will have on the farmland. These agreements are very long term contracts (25 years to 60 years in length) in which control is transferred to the wind farm developer for surface development of the contracted acres to place turbines, install roads and install power lines across the contracted acres. Care needs to be taken in reading and understanding the wind farm development agreement to insure that the terms of the agreement are compatible with your current and any future farming practices. As the landowner, are you willing to fulfill your responsibilities identified in the agreement over the entire life of the agreement?

A checklist of points that every landowner should consider prior to signing a long term wind farm development agreement is available on the web.

This type of checklist can be very helpful for landowners to get started but it is always recommended that a landowner get professional legal advice before signing any type of long term development agreement. Doing your homework and developing a good development agreement to start with can help avoid negative outcomes later in the contract and the frustration of not being able to implement changes in the future. Good long term agreements take time and require landowners to do some serious research to create the “win-win” wind farm agreement that we would like to see across the state. If you have additional questions or would like to find some wind farm resources on line, feel free to contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), MSU Extension Farm Management Educator.

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