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Legal Issues for Landowners

A wind energy agreement should never be negotiated without first having the agreement reviewed by legal counsel. Wind energy agreements are long-term agreements that will impact the land subject to the agreement for many years, likely beyond the lifetime of the landowner who executes the agreement. The following is a list of questions that landown­ers should ask when analyzing any wind energy agreement:

When a wind energy agreement is being negotiated, certain issues are critical to the creation of an equitable agreement. Unfortunately, a common problem with many wind energy agreements is that once they are proposed and submitted to a landowner, the company wanting to execute an agreement tends to refuse to negotiate changes to the terms of the agree­ment. The company’s ability to refuse to negotiate terms of the proposed agreement will depend largely on whether a landowner has meaningful options and competent legal representation. Key provisions to a wind energy agreement that require careful attention by legal counsel for landowners contemplating a wind farm include the following:

Clearly, wind farming has the potential to provide significant economic benefits for rural landowners. However, sub­stantial peril exists that landowners who don’t carefully evaluate proposed agreements with developers can be taken advantage of significantly. Landowners should have any proposed agreement evaluated by legal counsel and attempt to negotiate any unfavorable terms. Failure to do so could result in many years of dissatisfaction for landowners.

Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Iowa State University

Download complete paper, updated Nov. 2, 2009: “Wind Energy Production: Legal Issues and Related Liability Concerns for Landowners in Iowa and Across the Nation” [1]