When The Wind Turbine Man Comes a Knockin’: You Mean I Can Get Paid for the Wind?

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

By Ashley Ellixson and Paul Goeringer

Shot from below a wind turbine (Photo by Daniel Arnold).
Shot from below a wind turbine (Photo by Daniel Arnold).

This post should not be construed as legal advice

A few areas in Maryland are debating whether to allow development of wind turbines (aka windmills). Putting a wind turbine on a property will open up new revenue sources for a landowner and potentially impact (negatively or positively) neighboring landowners. At the same time, a landowner who wants to see these new revenues will have to sign a very lengthy “wind energy agreement” or “wind energy lease.” This agreement or lease, depending on the name used, will dictate the rights and duties of the wind company and the landowner and could potentially impact the land for years to come (possibly over multiple generations). It’s important that, before signing on the dotted line, landowners carefully review these documents with an attorney who has experience handling these agreements to understand the terms, how the landowner will get paid, and how the agreement will impact future decisions involving the land.


Truck hauling wind turbine part (Photo by Alex Kostibas, Source Wikicommons).
Truck hauling wind turbine part (Photo by Alex Kostibas, Source Wikicommons).

Before we start, it is good to know that a wind energy agreement is really three agreements rolled up into one document. The first agreement is the option period which typically runs 3 to 5 years (but some could run for 10 years) during which the company will conduct tests to determine feasibility of the property for the wind project. The landowner could potentially request rent payment during this period to be paid annually while tests are being conducted.

If property is determined useful for wind energy development, then the landowner would move into the easement period or second agreement. This is when turbines go up and the other necessary infrastructure is built. Again, the landowner could request rental payments here to potentially speed up development. Once the turbines are in place and the infrastructure exists, then we move into the third agreement, the lease period. With the lease period, energy production will start and you will potentially see payment for production of electricity on property.

There are a number of issues to consider before signing a wind energy agreement.

1. Contacting an Experienced Attorney