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Nebraska: Wind-turbine deals leave some landowners uneasy

Carson Vaughan — Omaha.com — July 3, 2014

Landowners who receive royalty checks for having wind turbines on their land aren’t without their own concerns.
When Sempra U.S. Gas & Power completes development of Broken Bow II later this year, rancher Dave Haumont estimated he’ll be leasing out at least 15 turbine sites across his 6,100 acres.

Haumont said the deal was simply too good to pass up. And if he didn’t accept the offer, neighbors would have. Either way, he’d be stuck in the middle.

“If money and bankers were not part of my problem every day — if it was just coming in easy — I probably would have said ‘No, I don’t need these out here,’ ” Haumont said. “But it could save our ranch — or, at least, make it a little bit easier.”

He and son Matt, who works the ranch with him, worry about the length of the contracts: 20 years, with two 10-year options. It’s essentially a 40-year deal, Matt Haumont said, and there’s still a lot of uncertainty — about the country’s energy needs, about the technology, about the slew of different companies involved.

“You’re signing something that’s going to have a direct impact on the next generations to come,” Matt said.

“You know, wind energy is pretty new. You hear all these stories about how it changes the weather patterns and things like that. I don’t know that I believe all that,” he said, “but on the other hand, it’s so new, and you’re pioneering on it, so that’s probably the biggest uncertainty.”

The ranchers also worry about the rights to privacy and property they have given up. Sempra U.S. Gas & Power now has total access to their land. While they stress the courtesy and professionalism of the construction crews, the ranchers would prefer the rights they had before to say “Keep out.”

“We’ll have strangers driving on us forever,” Dave Haumont said.

He’s careful not to sound too negative. It’s not all bad, he said. The money’s nothing to shrug off, both personally and for the community.  Continue reading here…..

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