“Should the client sign the documents, in effect, he or she is affecting the use and viability of the property and any family plans for it for a minimum of 20 and perhaps as much as 40 years. From the Ontario experience, we know that neighbours are rarely appreciative and old friendships often suffer.”
Law Times. Speakers Corner: The Reality of Wind Power Contracts
Monday, 19 September 2016 09:00 | Written By Garth Manning
Rural landowners who are approached to permit a wind turbine or turbines or associated equipment on their acreage badly need sophisticated legal advice on these complex agreements.
What happens too often, however, is that landowners simply tick the box in the documents presented to them that says they waive independent legal advice.
As a public service, lawyers should change this practice, and soon.
Wind power projects are part of a policy for renewable sources of power within Canada. In Ontario, many projects are already operating in rural parts of the province with an additional 600 megawatts scheduled to be added in 2017. More are planned for several other provinces, including Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Lawyers advising rural landowner clients considering such agreements should be aware of the characteristics of these leases in order to advise clients appropriately. Often clients focus on the dollar amount offered by the developer without considering other important impacts of the agreement.
Typically, the wind power proponent incorporates a subsidiary for each individual project. Its agents obtain turbine sites from farmers who have limited understanding of what they’re being asked to do, which is to sign an Option to Lease many pages long; in this option may be a “further assurances” clause that obligates them, if the option is exercised, to sign a form of lease.
That document, many more pages long, is by far the most lessee-friendly imaginable to any real property lawyer, experienced or otherwise.
Those farmers badly need legal advice; local law associations should emphasize this to their members.