Landowners need to be very cautious . . . with wind and solar lease promises

Windmill and solar farm projects are back in the news as the NDP government marches on with its plan to save the world.

AHEAD OF THE HEARD — Windmill and solar farm projects are back in the news as the NDP government marches on with its plan to save the world. Part of that process has seen the Alberta Electric System Operator, the government agency charged with meeting the goal of 30 per cent renewable energy for the province, requesting formal interest from companies willing to supply such energy. I suspect interest will be keen, particularly from companies with experience in fleecing and scamming the Ontario government and consumers with costly subsidized renewable energy schemes. Billions have been invested in inefficient wind and solar projects built across Ontario, all of it propped up by outrageously high levels of taxpayer subsidies and Ontario consumers paying the highest electricity rates in North America.

It should be mentioned that all of that effort and financial pain has not changed the level of emissions in Canada by a discernible smidgeon. All the millions that will soon be similarly spent by the Alberta government on green subsidies, and increased electricity rates for consumers will also have a negligible impact on reducing national emission levels. But you probably knew that already. In addition to enriching the profits of cunning renewable energy companies (REC), there will be money-making opportunities for some Alberta landowners.

RECs have already put out letters of interest to some landowners to increase wind and solar sites in anticipation of lucrative government subsidized contracts for more renewable energy. Alberta already has a well-developed windmill farm business with hundreds of mills located on dozens of sites across Alberta. The evolution of contractual arrangements between the RECs and landowners goes back over 40 years and a whole sub-industry of consultants and lawyers has developed to provide and act on such contracts.

But that doesn’t help the naïve land owner who is being promised seemingly rich lease payments, but doesn’t have even basic information on how these schemes work or on any possible negative consequences. Fortunately, the Farmers Advocate Office (FAO) has jumped into the gap and created a document that provides that information to landowners including all the points that need to be considered before signing a long-term contract. The FAO has also been carrying out numerous lease information meetings across the province. I suspect to the chagrin of the RECs who would prefer to have the information advantage over potential clients. I expect the FAO has learned from decades of dealing with oil and gas industry land access complaints and wants landowners to be aware of the benefits and pitfalls of dealing with this new land-lease player.

There is one obvious concern with the anticipated bonanza of renewable energy contracts that the NDP government is expected to soon issue that the FAO cannot formally warn landowners about. That being what happens if the present NDP government is replaced with a new government that is opposed to a highly subsidized renewable energy industry? Sure, there may be contracts in place, but that didn’t stop the present government from breaking contracts with companies that provide electricity by means of coal-fired plants. The legal process would be to provide compensation to RECs in such a situation, and I expect that would leave landowners holding the bag and stuck with potentially abandoned windmills and solar panel sites.

Landowners should insist that a bond be posted that would cover the removal and rehabilitation of renewable energy sites in case of bankruptcy or abandonment. Surely we have learned from what has occurred with some oil and gas well sites that were abandoned in the past. There also needs to be contractual consequences regarding non-payment of land lease fees. Many contracts are based on a flat base rate for the land plus a royalty on actual electricity generated. REC propaganda rarely mentions that windmills only generate energy 30 per cent of the time and solar farms even less so what if a future government decides to accept only half of the contracted renewable energy? Landowners could be in for a rude awakening plus they could be stuck with paying the property taxes. All of this has happened with oil and gas site leases.

One suggestion I have when considering REC contracts why not demand that free electricity be provided to the landowner from what is being generated on their property? It’s the least that can be offered for the eyesores and nuisance that landowners and their neighbours will have to endure from these monstrosities, not to mention the loss of productive land.

Just Posted

Stettler dancers land amazing experiences in the ‘Big Apple’

Hailie Ripley and Elisa Collard will soon be jetting off to New York City

Calgary’s Erin Ross featured at Entertainment in the Park July 24th

Ross has performed several times in past years at the popular event

Ponoka RCMP investigate motorcycle crash resulting in fatality

On July 13th, the man succumbed to his injuries while in the hospital

Castor resident meets award-winning namesake

Luella Kowalsky, who is a resident of Castor’s Paintearth Lodge, met ‘Miss Luella’ recently

Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman sentenced to life in prison

Experts say he will likely wind up at the federal government’s Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado

Natural gas producers demand government action in open letter to Kenney

The letter warns that the viability of the natural gas sector is in jeopardy

Remains of missing Edmonton woman discovered outside of North Battleford: RCMP

The 25-year-old Edmonton woman was reported missing on May 12

Companies to appear before panel today in public inquiry into B.C. gas prices

A three-member panel by B.C. Utilities Commission will listen to up to four days of oral hearings

Interviews with family of highway shooting victim heard in Calgary court

Horst Stewin’s relatives were set to testify by video from Germany this morning, but a court translator said she was unable to proceed

Lower gas prices slow annual inflation rate to Bank of Canada’s 2% bull’s-eye

Prices showed strength in other areas — led by a 17.3 per cent increase in the cost of fresh vegetables

Special memorial service to say goodbye to murdered Kelowna teen

A memorial service and celebratio of life was held Tuesday for murdered teen Elijah-Iain Beauregard

RCMP investigating alleged ‘sexual misconduct’ by cyclist on BCIT campus

BCIT said they were reviewing video evidence of the incident

Graphic suicide scene edited out of ‘13 Reasons Why’ finale

Suicide prevention groups support the decision

Most Read