As a way of compensating residents who live near the construction of wind turbines, but are not participants, Horizon Wind Energy has developed a Wind Farm Neighbor Easement Agreement.
The document outlines an agreement in which Horizon will allow for payments to landowners living near the immediate vicinity of turbines, in exchange for “an easement, right and entitlement on, over, across and under owner’s property for any sound level (audible or otherwise) in excess of 50 decibels …”
The Illinois Pollution Control Board recommends that people not be consistently exposed to noise levels over 40 decibels. Since the turbines can generate in excess of this amount, the agreement will pay $1,000 annually to property owners for the next 30 years with a 2 percent annual increase in the payments.
The agreement also states that if a shadow is cast over a property owner’s residence, due to the height of the turbines, Horizon may “undertake measures such as tree planting or installation of awnings, draperies or other window treatments necessary to mitigate the effects of the offending shadow.”
Horizon also states it will test television reception and make an attempt to correct weakened signals caused by nearby turbines.
“Correction measures may include … installation of television signal boosters serving the general area of the wind farm, installation of an antenna or signal booster or installation and payment for cable, dish TV or similar devices serving owner’s property.”
Horizon’s project manager Bill Whitlock said each property owner would likely see more than $40,000 over the life of the agreement.
“The owner agreement stays with the land,” said Whitlock. “If the owner moves, the agreement (will be passed on to the new owner).”
The easement agreement also contains a confidentiality clause, which states, “The owner shall not disclose to others … the terms of this easement agreement.”
Rick Porter, attorney for opposition group Union Ridge Wind, said he would advise his clients to not sign the agreement. Porter said the agreement gives Horizon the right to infringe on the residents’ properties.
Porter also designed his own “neighbor agreement.” The main difference between Porter’s and Horizon’s draft, according to Union Ridge Wind’s members, includes a property value guarantee.
“If a property owner wants to move, this will guarantee the value of the property (prior to the construction of the turbines),” said Glenn Folger, member of URW. “It doesn’t cost the county anything, and if what Horizon says is true about property values not decreasing because of the turbines, it won’t cost them anything either.”
When Porter asked Whitlock in cross-examination if Horizon would consider agreeing to the property value guarantee, Whitlock said, “No. There’s no property value loss.”
“Then there’s no detriment to your company,” replied Porter.
When Logan County Board Chairman Dick Logan was asked if the county would consider asking Horizon to guarantee these residents’ property values, Logan said he would leave the matter to the lawyers and the zoning board of appeals.
“I don’t get involved in the legal stuff,” said Logan.
By Joshua Niziolkiewicz
27 June 2008
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding