“This is my land and I’ll do what I want with it”.
I’ve heard that a few times in regards to wind energy. But in life we “own” our land about as much as we “own” a weekend hotel room. Land is not a consumable like food, gasoline, vehicles, buildings, etc. We are only stewards of the land. Some would say that an industrial wind turbine only takes an acre of land and an acre is not of consequence. However, that isn’t true. There is land all around us that will never be crop productive – land that is too wet, rocky or hilly. I don’t blame farmers when they fight for every square foot of tillable land, a few more bushels each year adds up. An industrial wind turbine lasts about 20 years. Will the gravel-loaded service road and covered over base ever produce like before? Let’s work this backward, and say you have an abandoned industrial wind turbine on 80 acres of land (just like thousands of abandoned turbines in California).
The wind turbine owner has disappeared (like California) and the state and federal governments are not going to pay for decommissioning. Your local township has written into its wind ordinance that the landowner (you) is ultimately responsible for decommissioning. Properly decommissioning an abandoned wind turbine today will cost $200,000-$300,000. Unless you have deep pockets like WPS, the 80-acre parcel will be assessed to pay for decommissioning. What farmland buyer (or inheritor) of your parcel would take on the risk of a salvage yard, toxic industrial dump or an industrial wind turbine? An abandoned industrial wind turbine on your land puts you between a rock and a hard place. Once you’ve signed on the dotted line, changing your mind won’t change the contract or its consequences.
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