Posts tagged ‘wind farm’

Wind Energy in Van Wert County Part Deux: Challenges

On Monday, January 26, I attended another large-scale wind energy meeting in Van Wert.  The meeting featured Ohio Farm Bureau’s Dale Arnold as well as Iberdrola Renewables Wind Land Consultant Dave Dickson.  This post is more or less a followup to one of the first posts I did on wind energy (click here for that post).

There are essentially two major companies shopping wind leases in Van Wert, Iberdrola Renewables and Horizon Wind Energy.  Since Horizon Wind Energy was not at this meeting (due to an unavoidable conflict) I’ll focus on Iberdrola Renewables.  The company is based in Spain and has developed 29 windfarms in the U.S.

Iberdrola Renewables has one project in the area, “Blue Creek Wind Power Project”, with a stated goal to secure 40,000+ acres for wind energy turbines.  Mr. Dickson provided a general overview of the project, which is very similar to the Horizon Wind Energy project.  Both companies are looking to sign contracts with landowners in Tully and Union townships (northwest and northcentral Van Wert County), as well as parts of Paulding County and Allen County, Indiana.

If all conditions are met, Iberdrola Renewables has a timeline indicating that construction may start by 2010 with all turbines operational by 2011. Payments are similar to Horizon Wind Energy, providing $5,000+ per year to a landowner (assume one 1.8-2MW turbine for 80 acres).  Lease period is 30 years with an option for an additional 20 years.

I see a few challenges, and I’m not quite clear how these challenges will be met.  The issue of checkerboarding could present a significant obstacle to overcome. Checkerboarding is a term used in land development to describe what happens when two (or more) companies work independently and in competition to sign land contracts.  For example, two side-by-side land parcels could each have a contract signed by a different wind energy company.  From what I understand, if one wind energy company develops a large scale wind farm the competing company(ies) may leave the area and look eslewhere without building a single turbine.  The problem is that leases are typically not exchanged or purchased between the wind energy companies.  Therefore, if you sign a lease with the ‘wrong’ company you may not get any turbines.  Checkerboarding has already occurred in Van Wert County.  As I looked at the map provided by Iberdrola Renewables, I could identify areas of relatively close proximity where both Iberdrola Renewables and Horizon Wind Energy have lease contracts.

The current process seems to be lacking in community planning.  In a community planned system, parcels could be identified and leased by a single entity.  This single entity could represent one, two or more wind energy companies.  The goal being to unify the land development process so that maximum financial benefit is achieved for all parties: landowners, neighbors, school systems, community and the wind turbine companies.  A locally owned project may also alleviate the issue of checkerboarding.

ADDITION (February 2, 2009):

Dan Litchfield, Business Developer for Iberdrola Renewables provided some very helpful clarifications-

  • Heartland Wind, LLC is 100% owned by Iberdrola Renewables, Inc.
  • The LLC company form is used by us primarily to help organize our nationwide leasing efforts. We have separate legal entities for our west coast development and east coast development.
  • Another major wind developer, NextEra Energy (fka FPL Energy) also has a leasing subsidiary called Heartland Wind, LLC, but it is registered in a different state and is a totally separate company
  • If any landowners are uneasy about leasing to Heartland Wind, LLC, we are happy to add on their contract that Heartland Wind is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, Inc. Also, later this year we may prepare leases directly with Iberdrola Renewables, Inc.

January 27, 2009 at 8:00 am 4 comments

Wind Resources in Ohio

The US Department of Energy has a very nice full-color map on Ohio wind power resources. The map shows wind resources, but more importantly the location of transmission lines. Transmission lines are a major part of any utility-scale wind turbine project. Strong winds are important in a wind turbine project, but transmission lines are the key.

Ohio Wind Resources Map

August 26, 2008 at 7:00 am

Windfarm Observations

Not from me, but from Charles Profit. Charles Profit called me earlier in the week and told me that he was headed off to Illinois. He asked if I was interested in having him take a look at Horizon Energy’s wind turbine project in McLean County, Illinois. Of course I jumped at the chance to have Charles get me some pictures and give me his opinion.

After Charles’ visit to Illinois he called me and gave me his comments. He indicated that he was impressed with the size and scale of the project. He said the biggest issue that Horizon (or any other windfarm company would have in Van Wert) would face is siting. Van Wert County is considered a rural community. But unlike the area where the turbines were located in Illinois, we have houses spread out all over the countryside. You can’t drive a mile without seeing one or two (or more) houses. That will make for a challenge to site wind turbines.

The below pictures are from the Horizon Energy Twin Groves Wind Farm in Illinois. Thanks, Charles, for the great pictures and your commentary.

August 22, 2008 at 7:00 am

Wind Lease Contracts for Landowners

In Van Wert County, Ohio we have several Wind Energy Companies shopping landowners for acres. I have seen lease and payment arrangement terms for two of these wind energy companies. I won’t give you specific details of each lease, but I’ll share some commonalities. Frankly, the leases and terms are similar for the most part. OK, here we go:

Phase I – Research

  • lasts 3-5 years
  • meteorlogical (referred to as ‘met’) tower(s) erected
  • payment can be as much as $2000 per year per landowner

Phase II – Construction and Operation

  • lasts 30 years with option to extend the contract for an additional 20 years
  • density of turbines and number of landowners involved varies per project
  • payments to an individual landowner are based primarily on number of turbines and/or electricity generated (note: other factors come in to determining payment, but to a lesser extent)
  • 80 acres with one turbine can provide $5,000+ per year to a landowner (this may or may not depend on power generation); assume 1.8-2 MW turbine
  • lease may or may not include payment adjustment based on Consumer Price Index; lease payments based on MW generation will likely not have CPI adjustment

Phase III – Renewal or Decommission

  • after 30-50 years the project will be renewed
  • if the project becomes obsolete, the project will be decommissioned


Wind energy development is definitely a hot issue in my locality. It is important to point out that the companies working in my area are interested in developing utility-scale wind farms, not wind farms for individual use. The projects are in the 100-300 MW range, which translates roughly into 100-200 wind turbines.

Speaking with the the companies that are interested in my area, the availability of utility grade transmission lines is a big asset. Van Wert County has a 345kV transmission line bisecting the county east to west. Now the question becomes, do we have the wind necessary to make wind farms feasible?

August 15, 2008 at 7:00 am 2 comments

Wind Farm Information

Several companies are interested in developing wind farms in Van Wert County. In this week’s podcast I have provided some useful information on developing a wind turbine on your farm.

June 9, 2008 at 4:08 pm


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