As wind turbine development continues to spread throughout southwest Minnesota, landowners are being encouraged to carefully review any lease agreements before moving forward.
A forum scheduled for Jan. 22 in Redwood Falls is targeted at landowners looking to gather information before making a final decision to lease out land for a wind turbine.
Cheryl Glaeser, Initiative Foundation program specialist, said landowners around the region need to be aware of what they are agreeing to when signing a lease agreement.
"We have been receiving requests from economic professionals and other organizations across the state, saying they have a lot of questions from landowners who are being approached to lease their land for wind projects," said Glaeser.
Glaeser said the non-profit group Windustry will be on hand during the discussion to talk about the risks and rewards of wind tower lease agreements.
"(The group) Windustry has a representative and goes through the risk and rewards, what are the landowners' options for taking part in wind energy - from leasing the land to actually being a part owner in a project," said Glaeser.
Lisa Daniels, executive director for Windustry, said it's important for landowners to read through lease agreements carefully and not to rush into any project.
"Each landowner should pay attention to what developer is offering a lease," said Daniels. "Some might have a more planned-out and active plan for developing the land, a more realistic plan for developing the land. Some might just be speculators. It's up to the landowner to make that decision."
Daniels said agreements can have different life spans, ranging from 40 years to an indefinite time frame.
Daniels said the economic troubles in the country may have slowed down some of the interest in developing wind energy in the region for the short term, but landowners should be prepared for it in the near future.
"There are still renewable energy requirements that need to be met," said Daniels. "If you don't have people knocking on your door for wind rights now, you might still have it later. It is part of the process, you have to learn as much about it as possible."
Glaeser said it's important for landowners to seek legal council before moving forward with any agreement.
"We have a legal representative that is there to go specifically into leases and agreements," said Glaeser. "We look at some of the common language you need to look for and what are some of the statements that come up in an agreement.
"People need to seek legal advice on these," she said. "They are typically long as far as the years the lease is in effect."
The wind forum is scheduled from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22, in Redwood Falls for any interested producer, farmer or business in the region.
For more information on this event, contact Julie Rath, economic development specialist with Redwood Area Development Corporation, at 507-637-4004 by Jan. 20.