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Geneseo residents beware: details in wind farming could get tricky

GENESEO -- The devil is in the details, when it comes to lease agreements between companies and farmers.

Over 100 people showed up Monday at Winner's Circle in Geneseo to listen and ask questions about the future of wind farms in Henry County. One of the main messages, from Bureau County Farm Bureau president Rob Sharkey, of Bradford, was to know the lease agreement.

Mr. Sharkey spoke of problems with wind farm agreements and installations in Bureau County and what farmers here should know. Mr. Sharkey is getting wind turbines on his own property.

"There are things you have to do to protect yourselves as farmers and landowners," he said. "There area a lot of field tile problems, compaction problems, not being able to access your own ground.

"You guys take care of your ground. You're now allowing another company to put up structures that are going to be there," he said.

"We've really got to be careful and protect ourselves and make sure we can farm that ground."

He said in Bureau County, owners of a wind farm had to agree to use all union labor.

"One problem was that the union workers had no experience with field tile," Mr. Sharkey wrote in a handout for guests. "There were also some problems with the union workers telling the farmers to leave the work site because they didn't have... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
Over 100 people showed up Monday at Winner's Circle in Geneseo to listen and ask questions about the future of wind farms in Henry County. One of the main messages, from Bureau County Farm Bureau president Rob Sharkey, of Bradford, was to know the lease agreement.

Mr. Sharkey spoke of problems with wind farm agreements and installations in Bureau County and what farmers here should know. Mr. Sharkey is getting wind turbines on his own property.

"There are things you have to do to protect yourselves as farmers and landowners," he said. "There area a lot of field tile problems, compaction problems, not being able to access your own ground.

"You guys take care of your ground. You're now allowing another company to put up structures that are going to be there," he said.

"We've really got to be careful and protect ourselves and make sure we can farm that ground."

He said in Bureau County, owners of a wind farm had to agree to use all union labor.

"One problem was that the union workers had no experience with field tile," Mr. Sharkey wrote in a handout for guests. "There were also some problems with the union workers telling the farmers to leave the work site because they didn't have union cards.

"Needless to say, the tile was not fixed right, and now there are all sorts of drainage issues."

Mr. Sharkey said the wind farm companies should also pay for any crop damage done by equipment used in putting the towers up.

"I have heard of leases with crop damage paid at rates of 130 to 150 percent," he said. "Also, the crane they use to put up the windmill weighs one million pounds. Along with all the other equipment used to put them up, the land will suffer compaction."

At this time, there are three wind energy companies setting up land leasing agreements in Henry County. They are Greenlight Energy, of Charlottesville, Va.; Competitive Power Ventures of Silver Springs, Md.; and Invenergy LLC, of Chicago.

Two other companies have also expressed interest in Henry County, although their names were not revealed Monday.

Greenlight project development manager Stephen Pulich said there are many things landowners need to consider in the wind farm industry.

Much of the problem is the technology is so new, he said. "There's no guarantee in the wind energy field ... (but) I think it's blatantly clear that there has to be a better mix. We can't have 60 percent reliance on petroleum. We just can't. It's a risky business on our end, and also, on the farmer's end."

Mr. Pulich said each wind turbine will cost between $1.5 million and $2 million each. Each landowner will get a lease fee - possibly $5,000 to $10,000 per year -- per turbine on their land.

Henry County Zoning Administrator Bill Philhower told the audience that before any building permits are issued, there have to be agreements with the county and townships about how much equipment weight will be on the roads.

He hopes to get the process started this fall. The contracts are expected to cover at least 30,000 acres in the county, Mr. Philhower has said.

Source: http://qconline.com/archive...

FEB 28 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/1466-geneseo-residents-beware-details-in-wind-farming-could-get-tricky
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