With regards to the recent article cautioning farmers on the pitfalls of signing land leases for industrial wind turbines, I would share a further warning conveyed by our lawyer, when my wife and I were initially looking to purchase land in Prince Edward County two years ago, prior to ultimately deciding on a property near Chesley.
At the time, we were advised that most wind turbine leases do not provide guarantees that at the end of the contract, the wind company would actually be forced to remove decommissioned wind turbines and remediate the farmer’s land. Further there was a risk that if the wind company went bankrupt the farmer would likely bear the costs of removal which, to remove both the turbine and its foundation to return the site to arable farm land, could cost half a million to a million dollars.
Interestingly, since, I have read various reports where wind company representatives have provided “assurances” that concerns over abandoned or derelict industrial wind turbines are not warranted. A quick literature review however, suggests otherwise. Numerous abandoned industrial wind turbine installations now exist in the United States where industrial wind turbines have outlived their estimated 15-to 20-year operational life. Indeed, the number of abandoned industrial turbines in California is by some accounts estimated to exceed more than 10,000. In what is likely a harbinger of things to come to Ontario, the City of Palm Springs, Calif. has enacted an ordinance mandating that wind turbines be maintained in an operational state. Ultimately, where the wind turbine company is unable or unwilling to comply, the City looks to the landowner for enforcement.
Sadly, in the absence of a posted bond, Ontario farmers who sign wind turbine leases – and perhaps ultimately the municipality and taxpayer – could be looking at a clean-up bill in the next 15 to 20 years which not only exceeds the total compensation received from the wind company, but also the full value of the farm.
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