The following letter was received by us and is addressed to people who have signed a lease option
with Ecogen. If the option is due to expire, you may want to consider
the following information before you put your land back under Ecogen's
You may want to take another look at the real estate tax part of the
agreement. The company is supposed to pay all taxes attributable to the
wind towers. The wind towers are exempt from taxation for 15 years in
New York. At the Fenner, NY project the wind towers were listed as
improvements on the tax parcel owned by the landowners. Could the same
thing happen here? Keep in mind that you will be addressing this issue
15 years in the future. What is the likelihood that you will be dealing
with the same company you signed with? 15 years seems like a long time
and you received your annual lease payment in that time but what do you
suppose the taxes are on a commercial power generating wind tower? And
let's not overlook what the tax consequences would be if the wind
company went bankrupt. You may want to look into Ecogen's history of
wind project construction and management or the lack thereof.
Ecogen has publicly stated that many of its towers will be
interconnected with ABOVE ground transmission lines. The lease says
under the "use" clause that the tenant (Ecogen) has the right to use the property
for constructing transmission lines. It does not say they will be
underground. Ecogen told me and other landowners that the lines would
be underground but it is not in writing.
You may want to look at the right of first refusal clause. My lawyer
said that to sign this agreement would take away my right to sell my
property to whom I wanted. The clause says that Ecogen has the right of
first refusal if the land owners desires to sell or to "effect any other
form of transfer with respect to the land". How does this effect
parents who may want to give the land to their children? How does this
effect the landowner's will/estate? How does this effect land with
multiple owners who may want to buy each other out at some point? What
happens in cases of divorce? Why does a wind tower lease even need to
include this clause?
The scope of construction necessary to erect the wind towers should
also be reconsidered. The South Bristol Views website says that "Ecogen
has already stated that they would have to clear-cut at least a 350'
circle for each turbine just to assemble the blades". The New York
State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) describes the
following in "A Guide for Local Authorities in New York": Access roads
to each turbine location are typically 18-20' wide. Crane pads are
installed along access roads and adjacent to the tower foundations.
Foundation excavation is additional to the area described. All this
area needs to be clear cut in wooded areas. NYSERDA's guide also says
that each turbine may require up to twenty cement trucks. The turbines
themselves come in 10-20 tractor trailers with additional tractor
trailers needed to bring in other tools and construction materials.
Does your lease agreement say anything about Ecogen restoring the area
to pre-construction condition? Does your lease say anything about tower
removal if they are no longer in use? Consider this along with the real
estate tax implications above.
Lastly, people should consider the liability they may be taking on by
allowing wind towers to be constructed on their property. Ecogen plans
on putting towers as close as 120' from my lot line. Blade and ice
throws, tower collapse, fire, noise, soil erosion/disruption of natural
drainage, and the potential to negatively effect ground water sources
and wells are all concerns that have been voiced and debated. What
landowners need to consider is in the event that a wind tower somehow
damages a neighbor's land, who is responsible to pay for damages? You
can argue about the likelihood of any of above concerns, but are you
prepared for the consequences if they do occur? I doubt if your
homeowners insurance is going to cover the potential damages a 400'
power generating wind tower may cause. Did your agreement say that
Ecogen will be responsible for any and all damages that the construction
or operation of the wind towers may cause? Mine didn't. Be aware that
NYSERDA lists distance as the factor which will mitigate the above
listed effects on neighboring properties. Here there are virtually no
setbacks. I have found no other wind project in the U.S. which puts
wind towers right on top of neighbors lot lines as is proposed here. Do
you really want to be pioneers into the uncharted waters this project
poses? Make sure any reassurances given by the sponsoring wind
companies are given in writing.