Getting Transactions Done for Wind Energy Projects
December 3, 2020
Forget answers blowin’ in the wind. Answers for wind energy developers are in the details. With 200 to 300 landowners and thousands of acres involved, the stakes are high. Leases and easements convey rights to place wind turbines and related improvements on a property. Experienced real estate attorneys give these complex, high-value transactions thorough review. While each project and agreement is unique, a few considerations are common.
“If a landowner has title issues on the property, there can be serious ramifications if they’re not addressed,” real estate attorney Kathy Law says. Good title work from a reliable source ensures:
- All property owners are identified.
- Proper names of all landowners are included.
- Title issues on the land are cured.
- Prior interests of tenants are identified and addressed.
- Consent of spouses are obtained, even if not an owner, in Iowa.
- All curative documents are obtained.
Laws and Regulations
Changes in county ordinances can affect the placement of turbines and significantly impact a project. State and federal governments change tax credits and environmental requirements. Agreements consider federal, state, county, and local rules—and try to create flexibility. Attorneys also review needs for zoning and special use permits. “Once you start having agreements with landowners based on certain assumptions and those assumptions change due to changes in laws and regulations, you have to be able to adapt,” Kathy says.
Along with other environmental impact research, studies examine the turbines’ possible effect on bird migratory patterns.
Views of the value of wind projects change across time and from place to place. Even a shift in the farm economy can influence the appeal of a wind project. Kathy advises her clients to stay on top of the concerns of the local population, as well as landowners.
A single turbine can create a $5 million transaction. Additional turbines can involve transactions of well over $1 billion. While wind projects take years to complete, the benefits extend well beyond energy generation. “One of the benefits of having so much wind energy in Iowa is we’re able to attract companies like Facebook, Apple, Google, and Microsoft to build data centers here. They know there’s renewable energy close by,” Kathy says. “And we have lots of wind component manufacturers in Iowa, people who service the wind turbines. Those are high-paying jobs.”
More information about Nyemaster Goode's Alternative Energy, Renewable Fuels and Public Utilities practice is available here.