Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Major Wind Power Development and Obstruction Issues

Wind companies wasted no time in securing land acquisitions near existing power transmission sources with ample grid capacity. However, the lack of major transmission line access is causing a back log for other “Wind Energy” projects waiting in the wings. Another drawback of rapid acquisitions is eminent domain consequences. For example, in Michigan’s thumb area, there is currently an uproar as viable farm land is being taken by the state through the use of eminent domain to provide the wind companies with access to major grid lines.

Added renewable energy development for future wind projects is solely dependent on utility right-of way easements for simple power transportation to retail markets. These issues are just the beginning of big problems that spell trouble for landowner’s because many planned projects awaiting consent need appropriate infrastructure to attract investment capital.

Market analysts’ project that over 17,000 miles of additional heavy duty power lines are needed throughout the Midwest region to build future wind projects. This interstate-like superhighway system for portable power commerce is needed so that electrical power may supply other areas unable to meet their own peak energy demand.

MISO, the electric grid operator for the Midwest, is responsible for maintaining our current system. It is responsible for directing and balancing power load issues, where necessary, in order to meet real-time market supply and demand conditions. However, mismanagement of excessive power supply or not being able to transport it to other regions of the country is a major hit to any energy developer’s pocketbook.

This means that wind turbine farms or high-power line structures are very important to the developer for economic reasons. Conversely, the placement of turbines or high-powered electric line structures can quickly become a major obstruction or payment issue to the landowner.

Most of the time landowners are kept in the dark as to where the structures will be placed on their property. Initial site layout maps always seem to come after the property owner sign the contract which, of course, is always subject to change unless circumvented prior to signing with adequate legal review.

Therefore, knowing the exact placement of coordinates and relative structural information given to the landowner may provide a temporary advantage. Especially if the landowner finds out through appropriate government agencies that no turbines or structures were ever intended to be placed on their farmland. This can quickly change the dynamics for lease signing opportunities.

Wind developers are required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FFA) to submit a site layout plan for final review. FAA regulatory obstruction rules require a minimum of 8 to 12 month lead-time before the agency may grant final approval for development. This official information can be used to map out and pinpoint the exact geographic coordinates for each turbine or structure many months before construction commences. All recorded coordinates are accurate to within the nearest second or hundredths of a second and changing any initial site locations would require re-approval.

FAA site layout plans are the quickest and easiest way to gain access to knowing the exact coordinates of a proposed wind turbine or high-powered line structure location. Landowners must understand that hosting these structures can impact farming operations for a long time to come and can actually be somewhat cumbersome to farming practices. Consider your options carefully! These obstructions may also cause additional problems related to personal safety and landscape views relative to quite enjoyment of your property.

Mr. Jeff Stephens, Attorney, and Mr. Rod Eagleson, Wind Energy Advisor, co-authored this article and represent EHS Energy located at 1413 Garden St., Kendallville, IN. EHS Energy can be reached at 260-582-9046 or email rodeagleson@gmail.com for additional comment.


  1. How do I get to the FAA site plan? I have 30 wind mills that are to put up around me in the next year. I'm posting as anonymous because I'm not sure how to post with a name. Thanks

  2. Your blog is one good source of market information as well as helpful for my energy market research and development.

  3. Thank you for offer to us such a good quality articles about wind energy. The information is quite complete and we can see the importance of wind power

  4. What is the minim acreage a landowner needs to lease to these energy companies? What protection can one take when purchasing land so the state can't have eminent domain? I hope my questions make sense

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