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Adair County landowners get informed on wind farm implications  

ORIENT – Landowners in Adair County may be better equipped to understand MidAmerican Energy’s efforts to install wind turbines on their land.

An informational meeting at Orient-Macksburg High School Thursday evening included presentations from Wind Turbine Specialist Tom Wind; Iowa State University Agriculture Law Professor Roger McEowen and MidAmerican Energy General Manager of Wind Development Tom Budler.

Budler said there are five meteorological towers up in the area, which are being used to study the feasibility of installing wind turbines in Adair County.

He said the studies, which began this month, should conclude by mid-August.

“We’re getting some good information as to what the wind resources are for project sites,” Budler said. “We continue to look for landowner and community acceptance. Everything we’re looking to do with project development is on a voluntary basis.”

Why here?

Wind said landowners who are able to have a wind turbine on their property should feel lucky to have land in a windy area, which has peaked MidAmerican’s interest.

“Those of you that have been contacted by MidAmerican for an easement, congratulations,” Wind said. “You are a selected minority of people in Iowa.”

Wind power is a rapidly-growing industry throughout the country and across the world, Wind said.

Iowans who own land along the highest elevations in the state, which begin in northwest Iowa where the Missouri and Mississippi rivers divide (or “M&M Divide”), and extending southeast, are more likely to be courted by energy companies, he said.

“We have good wind resources in the state,” said Wind. “The M&M divide extends into Adair County, and that’s why MidAmerican is here.”

Wind said energy lines connected to grids throughout the state are a crucial ingredient when companies consider where to foster wind farms, because the energy created by wind turbines needs to readily connect to a grid.

“That’s your second blessing,” Wind said. “You have these big, high-voltage transmission lines going through your county. That gives you a highway to get the wind power out of there, and that’s why MidAmerican is interested.”

Lease rates

Budler said the lease rate MidAmerican is offering landowners is $3,500 a year per turbine, with a 2 percent escalator clause if a turbine is constructed.

Wind addressed the wind-turbine lease-agreement issue by saying he has seen a variety of annual payments made to landowners from large companies.

There are several factors involved, including the size of the wind turbine and how much land the turbine renders unable to be farmed, he said.

“When the first wind turbines went up in Storm Lake, at first the lease rate was $2,000 a year,” he said. “I’ve seen $4,000 or $5,000 for one renter.”

Legal questions

McEowen discussed several legal factors, including contract negotiations and tax implications associated with wind-turbine lease agreements.

He stressed involving a lawyer in any potential contract negotiation Adair County landowners would have with MidAmerican, adding, most companies do not like to renegotiate contracts.

“These are long-term agreements,” he said. “Never negotiate a contract without a lawyer.”

McEowen said these kinds of energy negotiations are nothing new.

“These agreements you see coming out of wind companies right now will mirror oil and gas contracts of 100 years ago,” said McEowen. “Over half of the clause language is identical.”

By Andy Goodell

CNA staff reporter

Creston News Advertiser

6 July 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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