Currently, most landowners who participate in commercial-scale wind development do so by entering into a lease or easement agreement with a commercial wind developer.
In a case like this, the landowner would sign an agreement granting the developer the right to use their land for wind development, and in return, the landowner would receive compensation from the developer. Typically, the developer would own any turbines that are put up and would do all of the work of developing the project.
Land Lease Overview
When you lease your land to a wind developer, you receive compensation from a project developer who puts up a commercial-scale project on your land. The amount and details of this compensation vary in both amount and duration from project to project. The key to this type of participation is that you don't put up, own, or operate the turbines—the developer does all of those things. This can help to lower the risk to participate in commercial-scale wind. However, the lease or easement agreement you will enter into is a complex and binding legal document. You should always seek out experienced legal help in negotiating and evaluating any agreement with a developer.
Wind leases and easements are often written to cover extremely long periods of time—30 to 60 years is common, and they can be longer than 150 years in some cases. Because of the long-term ramifications of wind leases and easements, and because they are often complicated documents full of technical and legal terms, it is important for landowners to seek assistance in assessing any offer made to them.
We recommend that any landowner considering signing a lease or easement consult a lawyer with experience in wind energy development.
Windustry has developed a series of resources designed to help landowners make informed decisions about their land, and to promote agreement practices that are mutually beneficial to both landowners and project developers:
- Community Wind Toolbox Chapter 7: Leases and Easements — Start with a quick overview of leases and easements with links to additional chapters containing helpful project planning information.
- Landowner Guide to Evaluating a Wind Developer — This guide presents a number of questions and issues for landowners to consider before signing a lease with a developer.
- Introduction Guide to Landowner Wind Energy Associations — This introduction provides an overview to this model that allows landowners to come together and combine their resources, which provides greater negotiating power with the developer.
- Wind Energy Easement and Lease Agreement Guidelines — These guidelines cover wind energy land leases as well as wind energy easements and features information on provisions, recommendations, and items to watch out for.
- Compensation Packages for Wind Energy Land Agreements — This paper surveys the factors that drive compensation levels with a summary of data from published sources and also presents stories of landowner and community experiences.
- Best Practices and Policy Recommendations for Wind Energy Land Agreements — The Wind Easement Workgroup developed a list of recommended policies and practices to protect landowners, enhance economic development opportunities, and broaden access to wind energy market information.
- Wind Energy Easement and Lease Bibliography — This document lists a variety of useful resources related to wind energy lease and easement agreements.
- Project Summary — This project summary outlines the goals, processes, and members of the Wind Energy Easement Work Group that developed many of the above resources.
Request for Development
Many people wonder how they can get a developer to come put up turbines on their land. In most cases, the developer approaches the landowner, not the other way around. This is largely because developers tend to have large-scale strategies already in place. It is a bad idea to make financial or other decisions based on the assumption that you will be able to convince a developer to lease your land.
That said, if you are determined to try to find a developer to lease your land, we'd suggest starting by looking and asking around to see if any developers are already working in your immediate area and contacting them. The American Wind Energy Association U.S. Wind Energy Projects web resource provides state-by-state listings of completed projects including the developers. Windustry provides an abridged online directory of Wind Energy Companies, and many of them also have experience with Community Wind projects.