What Legal Issues Do Wind Power Developers Face When Entering into Wind Energy Agreements?
The apparent simplicity of generating electricity from the movement of a wind turbine may lead people to believe that wind power developers face relatively few legal issues. However, the process of converting any alternative energy source into power entails many of the same issues involved with more traditional power sources, such as oil and gas.
The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Division of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources of Oklahoma State University published a Wind Energy Leasing Handbook that details virtually every imaginable aspect of the process of converting wind into energy. The handbook explains that oil and gas leases can be as little as two pages long, whereas wind and emergency agreements often exceed 30 or 40 pages, for a number of reasons including the following:
- Oil and gas leases reflect a mature industry, backed by a century of statutes, regulations and case law. In contrast, the wind energy industry is new, with few laws and precedents to ease the process.
- The parties in a wind energy agreement need to forecast and address every foreseeable detail to protect their rights.
- Financing arrangements for wind power projects differ significantly from those for oil and gas — often involving third-party investors. Oil and gas financing typically falls to the developer.
Both power developers and landowners need the support of an experienced Oklahoma energy lawyer to iron out the details of a wind energy agreement. They still need to address issues common to any power source, such as obtaining easements for the movement of generated power to the utilities that purchase the power.
The law firm of Eller & Detrich, A Professional Corporation has the experience needed to assist with site control, lease and easement agreements, permits and other legal issues associated with wind power. Contact us to learn how we can help.