Sign a shitty turbine contract – everyone loses

no to wind leasesby Harvey Wrightman
I had a quick read of the recently published paper, part of a continuing project-thesis series for students in a graduate program at Western overseen by Dr. Jamie Baxter. I gather that Baxter originally viewed wind projects as a benign source of green energy and didn’t anticipate the more complex problems of the projects. I think most of us started from a similar position.  Baxter’s students attended some of the open house ‘sessions’ put on by the wind companies in Adelaide-Metcalfe. We were there also and you can imagine the fireworks that transpired. It was eye-opening for the students, that’s for sure. While I hardly think we need academic research into the cause of the resistance to wind projects, it may be a good idea to get it down formally somehow. I can’t write a peer-review; but, I can tell him how to make the process logical and fair. First, they must ditch the idea of bringing everyone (community, wind developers, government) together, providing them tools for discussion, and making some sort of consensus decision. This is just utopian BS that will please the wind fraudsters and fail the people who are sentenced to live there. You have to get the tools to the individuals, who will be targeted by the landmen, AND their neighbours. Wind companies don’t need any help.

It hardly matters how people rationalize or perceive their real-estate position once a wind project arrives, the over-riding fact is that it is an industrial development and such developments have impacts on all of the properties – lots of negative factors for everyone to share in. In the west Middlesex and north Lambton projects what is very interesting is that many of the large farm operators have refused to sign.  A family member of one such operation said to a wind company rep, “What you’re offering is not enough for what we’re giving up. Double your offer and we’ll negotiate.” This came at 3 AM after a night of discussions. No contract was signed. Wind reps left with empty pockets and groggy, sore heads. There’s a big empty space along 402 west of Strathroy that the wind companies badly wanted, but did not get. This is repeated elsewhere in Middlesex and Lambton.

I only wish more farmers had been able to figure it out so clearly before it was too late.

So, lacking that sort of common sense on a community level, I have 2 recommendations:

  1. Treat the wind companies like the franchise companies – where any contract signed between company and franchisee must have written independent legal advice (ILA) provided to the franchisee – think about who runs all those variety stores and puts in ungodly hours of time – immigrants who may have left very repressive regimes and are not inclined to buck the system here. Wind companies employ big city lawyers who write draconian 50+ page leases that are all in their favour. Then they get unlicensed, unregulated ‘persons’ – euphemistically called ‘landmen’ – who are trained in the ‘art’ of hard-sell, and set lose these mercenaries on rural residents who are not skilled enough to properly read and understand what they are pressured to sign. Wind contracts always container an exemption for the ‘Family Law Act’, otherwise an ILA would be needed.This issue arose in the OEB hearing into the Nextera-Bornish/Adelaide/Jericho transmission line. Curiously the land sale for the substation (~20 acres) had to have an ILA and it was filed as evidence in the OEB hearing. We argued that the same terms should apply to the property easements they needed for the line as they are signed in perpetuity. But Nextera protested and the OEB basically said, “Don’t worry, we won’t make you do that.”
  2. Now, I have to hold my nose when I say this, but if public policy demands that wind projects be built (and that’s what the GEA is all about), then unsigned residents in the area are effectively having their amenity taken away and that means a diminution of property value. So, we have a process for expropriation. It provides for independent property appraisal and stipulates that the subject owner of the property must be made ‘whole’ again – a fancy way of saying that not only shall fair and just value for the property be established, but damages (moving, etc.) must be considered and appraised by the same independent appraiser.  It’s not a pretty process, but it’s a whole lot better than “Good-bye and go to hell,” which is all we hear from the wind companies or the government now.

From the text of the study, it sounds like the interview base is not broad enough. It also falls into the trap of characterizing people as “new” or “old” to the area. This is another way of stereotyping people as rural (farmer) or urban (NIMBY). It just isn’t that simple. Many of the small lot owners are from local families – therein is the source of tension. It’s not necessarily a matter of ruralness. Also, the main property devaluation effect will be to the severed lots and the farm properties that are less suitable for cropping. Good workable land is still in high demand, turbines or not, though I would say there is a better and growing market for land that is not encumbered with a lease. Wind leases bring with them a very nasty tenant who can do what he wants when he wants and you can’t evict him. Leaseholders have found that out.

I’m left wondering about the solutions Baxter et al are seeking to the wind project strife – like suggesting better dialogue on a larger, community level (oh God, not more kindergarten open houses). They also make mention of ‘tool kits’ for both the wind companies and community members. I don’t know what more ‘tools’ the wind companies need.  They write leases that give them absolute control of the land. From the unsigned residents they expropriate their amenity and devalue their properties. The local councils are powerless to regulate their activities. The appeal process is biased and corrupt. It’s pretty clear to people living in the townships that the system is insurmountably stacked against them.

It all comes down to this: if a landowner unwittingly signs a shitty contract, his neighbours lose too. Everyone loses.

THAT’S WHY THE LANDOWNERS NEED COMPETENT LEGAL ADVICE BEFORE THE LEASES ARE SIGNED.


 

Also, see John Droz Jr.’s recent compilation of 40+ concerns about signing wind leases. Share with your neighbours.

7 thoughts on “Sign a shitty turbine contract – everyone loses

  1. Excellent write up, you really nailed it, your words point out how deep this
    wind scam runs and how it really does
    Affect the whole of a community.

    I had heard that the study barely had anyone in the Adelaide project
    participate. I’m wondering what was the
    total of people? 1,5???

    I didn’t get the whole tool outlook? These
    Students have no idea.

  2. It’s the option that should not be signed to begin with. Once that option is signed they got you!

    How many pages are the options?

  3. Some are a half an inch thick and I can’t
    Tell you how many farmers just signed it while standing in their doorways

    The wind reps got hold of a respected neighbors name in these parts and told them that this farmer had signed
    ( he did not ) but people were stupid enough to sign away.

    As the old saying goes, if your friend jumped off a cliff would you? Apparently round these parts the answer is yes!

    I wonder how many family lawyers gasped when some finally brought the lease in. Greed over brains, we all have to pay for thier stupidity now.

  4. Dear Harvey

    Many thanks for continuing to weigh in in this battle. You are a true Wind Warrior.

    The pseudonym I was given for this “research” was Barbara [NOT the Barbara who posts on OWR].

    Chad interviewed me at my son’s trailer where, when temperatures permitted, I sometimes was able to get restorative sleep but my sensitivity to the turbulence, vibrations and emissions generated by the IWTs was trivialized even though I had first recognized in Dec 2004 the harms which would be caused to birds in the TWO major migratory flyways [Atlantic and Mississippi] which cross Lake Erie where our community is located in Dec 2004.

    Also within the community we have headquarters of Bird Studies Canada, TWO IBAs [IMPORTANT BIRD AREAS] where migratory birds stop over in their long flights twice a year and world renowned and recognized UNESCO RAMSAR Convention sites.

    BUT we also had greedy, self aggrandizing, self seeking Mayor and Councillors [BEFORE GEA] who sold our vulnerable community into IWT hell. We are delighted that even already built projects might be rescinded; 10 years of traipsing around like a vagabond SHOULD be ENOUGH!

  5. Hello Harvey,
    You nailed it alright. The challenge is getting the people of Ontario to do something about this turbine hell enforced upon us. Maybe that is why you left Ontario?! Expropriation is too late at this point. Besides IWT’s should not be built at all. The only benefit is the the wind companies’ and government outright fraudulent criminal act for their own financial gain; blindly stealing the taxpayers dollars, millions, billions…while causing serious harm to their health.
    At this point an order for justice from a real court is in order. I will settle for nothing less than an eye for an eye, no appeal.

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