Petrolia lawyer Wallace Lang questioned the amount of money wind energy companies are offering farmers who lease them land to build turbines on.
Lang told more than 200 people gathered Thursday evening at Lambton Centennial School near Petrolia that the wind leases he has read typically offer landowners $15,000 a year, per turbine.
He was invited to speak by Conservation of Rural Enniskillen (CORE), a citizens group that formed earlier this year to oppose plans by several companies to build wind farms in Enniskillen Township.
“You really have to wonder if it’s a good bargain or not,” Lang said about the amount of money wind companies are offering landowners.
“It seems to be kind of chump change, really.”
The agreements can run for decades and may include inflation clauses but the lease payments are taxable, he said.
Lang told the crowd he believes more realistic compensation for landowners would be in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 a year for each turbine.
He urged landowners to be cautious, saying wind companies are sophisticated organizations that know how to market the documents they use to sign up landowners.
While they’re called option agreements, “it’s a final document,” Lang said.
“Make sure you want to do it, before you sign it.”
Farmers who do sign a lease give up a great deal of control over their property for a potentially long period of time, he said.
With renewals, the agreements he has read can run up to 57 years, Lang said.
It was the second community meeting organized by CORE. A third is scheduled for June 22, 3 p.m., at Lambton Centennial School, with Eric Gillespie, an environmental lawyer representing neighbouring Plympton-Wyoming in its legal battle with Suncor Energy, as the speaker
Suncor has taken Plympton-Township to court over that municipality’s tough wind turbine bylaws.
“We want to spread awareness to anybody who hasn’t signed a lease yet,” said CORE chairperson Chad Burke.
Burke said he’s hopeful wind farms can be kept out of Enniskillen.
Township council recently voted to declare Enniskillen an unwilling host for wind turbines.
Mayor Kevin Marriott said he believes wind companies are getting the message that the provincial government has now decided communities will have a say in where energy projects are built
“It’s leaking down from the government that if municipalities aren’t a willing host, to try and leave them alone,” he said.
“I’m a lot more confident than I was five weeks ago.”
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