Wind turbines are frequently sited on parcels where the wind rights are leased from the landowner. A long-term contract must be created that covers many aspects of the project, such as compensation, placement of turbines, access roads, and the location of electric collection and transmission systems. Financial institutions and title companies also have an interest in the wind energy development agreement as it impacts mortgaged property. Communicating and organizing such matters typically falls under the role of the real estate manager.
“A typical day entails spending the better part of the day on the phone answering and responding to questions about wind energy development agreements, payments, terms, the clauses, and the project itself. Often it involves meetings with land owners, their legal counsel, local elected officials and negotiating the terms for the development,” says Mike Powers, president of Local Productions LLC Wind, a consulting company.
As with other aspects of wind farm development, the standards are increasing due to advancement of the industry and the financial climate. “With the tightening of credit, it has become extremely important for projects to have a very high level of diligence for development agreements,” explains Powers. “There have been a number of projects that were relying on lower standards for their leases and easements. With the competition for scarce credit, they found that they had difficulty attracting investors to those projects.”
Like other aspects of wind farm development, a variety of skills and abilities are useful. “A thorough understanding of all aspects of project development, ability to present, negotiate and obtain agreements, and an understanding of contract law and real estate agreements are all important,” says Powers.
His background includes heavy construction, experience with landowners and developers in real estate transactions, coupled with a decade of serving in the Wisconsin Legislature on the Utilities Committee establishing energy policy including Wisconsin’s first renewable portfolio standard.
Sarah Lozanova is passionate about the new green economy and is a regular contributor to environmental and energy publications and websites, including Energy International Quarterly, ThinkGreen.com, Triple Pundit, Green Business Quarterly, Renewable Energy World, and Green Business Quarterly. Her experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and is a co-founder of Trees Across the Miles, an urban reforestation initiative.