TO UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT
OF WIND, SOLAR ENERGY PROJECTS
Most of the agreements will likely revolve around securing these terms, establishing the compensation package for the landowner, and defining the other parameters of the parties’ legal relationship.
While much more could be written about the issues to be considered in evaluating a solar or wind energy agreement, here are important questions for you to ask as you evaluate the proposed wind or solar agreement and determine whether it is suitable for you.
Do your due diligence. Use these questions as you make a decision regarding your property. Consult an attorney who is familiar with property owners’ rights, if possible.
Remember, the solar and wind companies are in business to make a profit and have their best interests in mind, not necessarily yours. So proceed with caution.
If a promise is made verbally, make sure it is also in writing. Protect yourself and your assets.
- How will current uses of the property be affected by the project or how will the lease affect my present and future farming operation?
- How long will the agreement last? How will the landowner be compensated?.
- How are property owners, schools and local governments guaranteed the funding promised by the company in the event of default?.
- What are the landowner’s obligations under the agreement?
- Who is responsible should an adjacent property or person be damaged by a solar panel or wind blade that came from your land or activities during construction of the installation?
- What happens if there are maintenance issues involved and what access and rights is the land owner giving up to the company?
- What happens if a tornado or other weather damage occurs and there is pollution? Who is responsible?
- Where do you plan to purchase your panels? Is there an assurance that there is no hazardous material within them?
- What fencing do you plan to use around your project? Options include a six-foot chain link with three strands of barbed wire or agricultural style.
- What will be your setbacks from non-participating land owners?
- Property lines as well as distance from primary dwellings and set-back from roads?
- Noxious weed control during and after construction. Who is responsible for this?
- Road Use Maintenance Agreement. Who is responsible for any damage to the roadway or in the event damage that occurs outside of the project area?
- Vegetative screening around the project. Is there a vegetative screening maintenance plan and review for replacement of dead plants, trees and bushes with a time frame?
- Decommissioning. Are there any requirements placed by the state’s public utility commission on this process? Is there any additional protection for the county where the project is located? This likely varies by county and township zoning laws and each state may have its own.
- What happens if the renewable company goes bankrupt or fails to meet its obligation? Is there specific language in the contract to address this?
- Who is responsible for the overall clean-up and the costs associated with that if a project is decommissioned?