Contractors and landowners who hired on for the construction of wind turbines in the Prairie Queen turbine generation field in Allen County have gotten their first lesson in the economic morals of wind farms.
That lesson is this: If they don’t want to pay you what they owe, they just don’t.
That’s reflected in a whole slew of liens filed against the properties of landowners there who leased turbine sites to EDP Renewables for the skyline obliterating construction project. And as everyone eventually learns about the national financial scam which is the wind industry in the U.S., the deal is only a deal when it benefits Big Wind.
The recent encumbrance of landowners’ properties because companies haven’t honored their word to hired contractors is an unfortunate common denominator connecting numerous wind turbine field developments across the country. We saw liens filed a few years ago with the turbine field nearby in Waverly in Coffey County; projects in New Hampshire, in New York, Oklahoma, Illinois, North Dakota and Indiana and others have seen liens filed against participating landowner properties.
The other common denominator is the savvy way wind companies slip the noose when they cause havoc in accounts receivable and let the chips fall on landowners who have no interest in the project other than hoping to collect lease payments. Anyone who’s ever actually read one of the leases flashed in front of landowners, along with that nice signing bonus, isn’t surprised. The mainstay of what should be company responsibility is specified in the very language of those leases to fall squarely on the heads of the landowners signing up with them.
The leases typically require landowners to pay any litigation costs involving their sited, 500-600 foot tall monoliths. They give up majority control over much of their land through site plans and easements, which the companies use to stack equipment and parts. Worse yet, gag clauses in those leases prevent disgruntled landowners from ever uttering a peep against their new benefactors, lest they lose their lease payments and get sued for breach of contract. In fact, a recent news story on the Allen County property liens by The Iola Register quotes a sole landowner who “asked not to be identified,” but swore he still supported the Prairie Queen project. That’s a magnanimous perspective from someone who now can’t sell his own land until a debt against it is paid to someone else.
Unfortunately Governor Laura Kelly’s rural interest dog and pony show of 2019 never offered any blanket state protections for communities and landowners beset by these unneeded, tax-credit fueled landscape destroyers. So, the landowners whose view of their beautiful Kansas vista was blinded by dollar signs are left to fend for themselves.
– Dane Hicks is publisher of The Anderson County Review in Garnett, Kansas.
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