Who pays for wind turbine teardown? Not clear, says lawyer

“No pocket you can go to in 20 years”: Environmental lawyer says taxpayers and landowners could be responsible for costs
Farmersforum.com , January 2016
By Brandy Harrison
Toronto- With more wind turbines coming to Eastern Ontario, there has been a lot of talk about what happens when it comes time to take down the towers. While the provincial government may put the onus on wind project developers to pay for teardown, it’s far from certain they’ll be able to collect if a company goes bankrupt — which could mean taxpayers are on the hook, says a Toronto-based environment and municipal lawyer.
“Many of these companies are relatively small, or based outside of Canada, and that creates what appears to bea real risk as there will be no pocket you can go to 20 years from now when a cleanup is actually required,” says Eric Gillespie, who has represented landowners and municipalities with wind turbine concerns.
It’s anybody’s guess who would end up paying for decommissioning — the landowner, the municipality, or provincial taxpayers, he says.
Farmers shouldn’t underestimate what it takes to remove a single turbine, Gillespie warns. The nacelle — the central hub containing the generator — is 80 to 100 metres in the air and weighs as much as 70 tonnes. “It’s not something where you just call your neighbor and ask him to bring his tractor over.”
While Ontario costs are yet unknown, world-wide decommissioning has ranged from $30,000 to $80,000 per turbine.
But the worst case scenario can be avoided if funds are set aside as part of the approval process, suggests Gillespie.
Decommissioning plans are required to get renewable energy approval but they don’t have financial strings attached.
There is already a good model in place, says Gillespie. Under the Environmental Protection Act, the government will ask for financial assurance if there is a risk of adverse effects that could require remedial work. A letter of credit or security is required up front.
“Anything other than that might keep lawyers busy for a long time but won’t help communities. It’s about addressing the issue now rather than waiting for the end and crossing your fingers. It should be the companies that are earning the profits that have to pay the bill.”

What's your reaction?


  • Lynda
    Posted January 14, 2016 10:42 am 0Likes

    …and, who will be responsible for the legal fees to determine who is responsible for the teardown? Shouldn’t this have all been taken care of BEFORE any turbines went up? Once again Big Libby (read Big Bertha) is letting her spare tires cover up the mess in the background of this photo.

  • Pat Cusack
    Posted January 14, 2016 10:45 am 0Likes

    So many people just walk away from where they’ve been and leave others to clean up after them.
    The decommissioning of these monsters is something else again. Those who put them up have to pay for dismantling them. Surely!
    BTW I would prefer these things not to be referred to as “farms”. One of our aldermen in Wainfleet is a farmer and I’ve heard him object too. No need to use the word farm at all in this case, methinks, but what do I know…

  • ScepticalGord
    Posted January 14, 2016 11:51 am 0Likes

    Just like decommissioned military bases, played out mines and derelict industrial sites, there will be one thousand and one excuses from the companies and governments for not cleaning up the mess and restoring the landscape. Wind factories, especially those in difficult locations on the Canadian shield, such as Algoma and Addington Highlands, will be more than likely left to rot in place due to the astronomical costs associated with removal. In southern Ontario, the long gone, well healed host farmers will be more concerned about the view from their Florida condo than the state of their abandoned fields (and the welfare of their former neighbours).
    Good luck trying to get defunct, bankrupt or foreign wind turbine companies to come back and get rid of their junk.
    BTW, how many times have you seen broken down roadside signs advertising businesses long closed?
    Can’t even get these guys to remove their garbage!

  • Kelly Taylor
    Posted January 14, 2016 11:57 am 0Likes

    I’ve been asking the same very question for the past 2 years.” Who is going to pay for the tear downs of wind turbines”? There are over 14,800 abandoned wind turbines in the USA alone.

  • Raymond Beaudry
    Posted January 14, 2016 1:10 pm 0Likes

    So what does it say in the leases in regards as to who owns the turbines once the 20 year contract is up? I expect anyone who leases the land will be responsible.

  • Barbara
    Posted January 14, 2016 2:42 pm 0Likes

    Anything a tenant leaves on your property becomes yours if the tenant can’t or won’t remove what ever it is after a specified length of time.
    One question is under Ontario law how long before it reverts to being the land owner’s property. Can’t even get a straight answer to this question!
    Seems to me that should be under the terms of Ontario real estate law?
    Keep people in the dark so as not to scare potential IWT hosts.

  • youbetyourlife
    Posted January 14, 2016 4:30 pm 0Likes

    I would say Wynne and McGuinty should be around to see the mess they have created, but u can bet they will be nowhere to be found. need to get them on the farm sometime. they have drove me out of my house and off of my property. can’t sleep or stand the noise. thanks so much u 2 a-holes

  • Theresa
    Posted January 14, 2016 10:58 pm 0Likes

    Some contracts state when the 20 year lease period is up, if the land owner does not sign on again with the wind company, the land owner is responsible to decommission the turbines.the cost had been estimated over $200,000. If the landowner failed to do this, the farm goes to rge wind company.
    Farmers did not understand the legal jargon contained within the contract and they did not present the contract to a lawyer prior to signing. I’m not sure if there was an opportunity for them to take a copy of the contract to a lawyer. Contained within the contract was also a “gag clause” on information contained within the contract.
    Landowners saw an opportunity to collect $1000 per turbine per month for 20 years. As one farmer put it, “He skipped all the way to his mailbox to collect his cheque!”
    Farmers are very disappointed in themselves. It appears they may have signed away the family farm. The next generation may have a very rude awakening as the farm is handed over.
    Until then, it is not talked about. Lots of praying going on in the Mennonite community of Norfolk County.
    I think the Bible mentions something about greed…

  • Theresa
    Posted January 14, 2016 11:50 pm 0Likes

    Wind companies in Ontario have collected billions of dollars in subsidies. The companies continue to collect big bucks generated from the turbines. The turbine developments cover much of the lake front properties of Ontario. The Great Lakes is the largest fresh water system in the world. The land of southern Ontario is prime agricultural land. Who will have control of the land when the wind industry goes down?! Brilliant.
    Something else to think about: the turbines are not lasting 20 years as the contracts. Many turbines are breaking down 10-12 years into the lease. What next? Will the land be forfeited sooner then later?
    As long as the Liberals are at the helm, it’s full steam ahead for them. Check mate “my friend?!”
    .. a contemporary Alice in Wonderland…down the rabbit hole? The Godfather may be more fitting..someone make a movie already.

  • Lynda
    Posted January 15, 2016 12:15 pm 0Likes

    I have no sympathy for anyone who leased their land for turbines the same way that they did not have any sympanthy for their neighbours who had to endure the hardships and health hazards of turbines. They made their beds now, they have to sleep in them.Go directly to jail…do not pass go.

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