Landowners- A Large Part of the Wind Development Equation


The relationship with wind developers and land owners wasn't always built on solid ground. Nebraska Farmers Union President, John Hansen said the 2007 Rural Community-Based Energy Development Act, protects land owners from strong-arm tactics, and allows them to harness the power of earning potential.

Hansen said, "They were not only helping themselves to folks wind at far below what competitive rates were, but they were also helping themselves to, well, what other natural resources happened to be under the land."

Custer County landowner JoAnn Kottmeyer said the wind turbines in her backyard couldn't come at a better time. Kottmeyer said, "We're very fortunate to get four mills."

"We had virtually no rain since the end of May … many cattle had to come out of the pastures, many pastures will not be able to support cattle next year , so this is going to all the landowners that have the mills to pay their taxes and maintain their property," said Kottmeyer.

Although Kottmeyer and the 18 landowners on the new Custer County wind farm have welcomed the project, land owners didn't feel they had much control five years ago.

"We would get an emergency phone call saying we're going to be down here having a meeting at 3 o'clock could you find a way to be here, because we're being told they're going to walk, and once they walk they'll never come back and we'll blow this huge opportunity," said Hansen.

The Farmers Union and lawmakers heard from many landowners prior to the 2007 C-BED Act, saying they were being pressured into signing contracts with developers.

Hansen said the high pressure tactics no longer exist.

"The development of a land owners association has been a real positive for land owners," said Hansen.

Kottmeyer said, "They ask you every step of the way if it's okay that they do this on your property and that on your property and it's been very very very good."