Wisconsin Farmer Has Regrets

A Fond Du Lac Farmer has regrets about agreeing to host a wind turbine--
Why can't he speak openly about it?

When you sign a 20 to 30 year contract to host a wind turbine on your property you may be signing away many rights you're unaware of. A confidentiality agreement in the contract may mean legal action can be taken against you if you complain publicly about the project. A Fond Du Lac farmer signed away his rights. He was interviewed by Don Bangart who wrote the following on behalf of the farmer, whose contract with the wind company prevents him from speaking openly about any problems.

This was printed as a full page ad in the Chilton, Wisc., Times-Journal, October 25, 2007.


Now each morning when I awake, I pray and then ask myself, “What have I done?”

I am involved with the BlueSky/Greenfield wind turbine project in N.E. Fond du Lac County. I am also a successful farmer who cherishes his land. My father taught me how to farm, to be a steward of my fields, and by doing so, produce far better crop production. As I view this year’s crops, my eyes feast on a most bountiful supply of corn and soybeans. And then my eyes focus again on the trenches and road scars leading to the turbine foundations. What have I done?

In 2003, the wind energy company made their first contacts with us. A $2,000 “incentive” started the process of winning us over, a few of us at a time. The city salesmen would throw out their nets, like fishermen trawling for fish. Their incentive “gift” first lured some of us in. Then the salesmen would leave and let us talk with other farmers. When the corporate salesmen returned, there would be more of us ready to sign up; farmers had heard about the money to be made. Perhaps because we were successful farmers, we were the leaders and their best salesmen.

Sometime in 2004 or 2005, we signed $4,000 turbine contracts allowing them to “lease” our land for their needs. Our leases favored the company, but what did we know back then? Nobody knew what we were doing. Nobody realized all the changes that would occur, over which we would have no control. How often my friends and I have made that statement: What have I done?!

I watched stakes being driven in the fields and men using GPS monitors to place markers here and there. When the cats and graders started tearing 22-foot-wide roads into my fields, the physical changes started to impact not only me and my family, but, unfortunately, also my dear friends and neighbors. Later, a 4-foot-deep by 2-foot-wide trench was started diagonally across my field. A field already divided by their road was now being divided again by the cables running to a substation. It was now making one large field into 4 smaller irregularly shaped plots. Other turbine hosts also complained about their fields being subdivided or multiple cable trenches requiring more of their land. Roads were cut in using anywhere from 1,000 feet to over half a mile of land to connect the locations. We soon realized that the company places roads and trenches where they will benefit the company most, not the landowner. One neighbor’s access road is right next to some of his outbuildings. Another’s is right next to his fence line.

At a wind company dinner presented for the farmers hosting the turbines, we were repeatedly told — nicely and indirectly — to stay away from the company work sites once they start. I watched as my friends faces showed the same concern I had, but none of us spoke out. Months later, when I approached a crew putting in lines where they promised me they definitely would not go, a representative told me I could not be there. He insisted that I leave. The line went in. The company had the right. I had signed the lease.

Grumbling started almost immediately after we agreed to 2% yearly increases on our 30-year lease contracts. Some felt we should have held out for 10%. What farmer would lock in the price of corn over the next 5 years, yet alone lock one in at 2% yearly for 30 years? Then rumors emerged that other farmers had received higher yearly rates, so now contracts varied. The fast-talking city sales folk had successfully delivered their plan. Without regard for our land, we were allowing them to come in and spoil it. All of the rocks we labored so hard to pick in our youth were replaced in a few hours by miles of roads packed hard with 10 inches of large breaker rock. Costly tiling that we installed to improve drainage had now been cut into pieces by company trenching machines.

Each night, a security team rides down our roads checking the foundation sites. They are checking for vandals and thieves. Once, when I had ventured with guests to show them foundation work, security stopped us and asked me, standing on my own property, what I was doing there. What have I done?

Now, at social functions, we can clearly see the huge division this has created among community members. Suddenly, there are strong-sided discussions and heated words between friends and, yes, between relatives about wind turbines. Perhaps this is a greater consequence than the harm caused to my land — life is short, and friendships are precious.

I tried, as did some of the other farmers, to get out of our contracts, but we had signed a binding contract. If you are considering placing wind turbines on your property, I strongly recommend that you please reconsider. Study the issues. Think of all the harm to your land, and, in the future, to your children’s land, versus the benefits from allowing companies to lease your land for turbines.



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Comment by Long Islander on November 28, 2016 at 10:22am

Police incident raises questions over wind energy company’s ‘good neighbor’ claims

The brothers later told The Advertiser they felt it was the right time to publicly announce the incident because they want people to know that they feel NextEra Energy Resources L.L.C. – and the companies representing them in Tuscola County – isn’t always the “good neighbor” officials from the company purport to be.

An Almer Township family called the police on a company doing land surveying for a wind energy company and are telling their story wherever possible now.

Brian Gyurko and Aaron Gyurko, both of Almer Township, described the incident during the comment portion of a Nov. 10 public hearing held by the Almer Township Planning Commission.

The brothers later told The Advertiser they felt it was the right time to publicly announce the incident because they want people to know that they feel NextEra Energy Resources L.L.C. – and the companies representing them in Tuscola County – isn’t always the “good neighbor” officials from the company purport to be.

“We’ve been going to the regular Almer Township meetings since we’ve been seeing stuff in the paper about this kind of thing…just kind of treating everyone like they’re bumpkins just because they live in the country,” Aaron Gyurko said.

He said that’s far from the case, pointing to the Nov. 10 public hearing about the application for special land use permits filed by Tuscola III L.L.C. – a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources L.L.C. The company plans to build a $200 million wind turbine project in Fairgrove, Ellington and Almer townships, and needs the special permits to do so.

At the Almer planning commission public hearing, area residents identified myriad issues with the application before the township’s own engineering firm, Spicer Group Inc., identified nearly 20 issues with it.

The public hearing ended after nearly 3.5 hours because the planning commission had a time limit on using the large cafeteria space at Caro High School.

During the meeting Ryan Pumford, project manager, NextEra Energy Resources, told the planning commission and attendees that the company sets itself apart from others through its “core values and experience.”

Pumford further highlighted NextEra Energy Resources’ approach to being “committed to excellence” while treating people with respect, and striving to “do the right thing.”

“I think our involvement with the township up until this point is reflective of these core values,” Pumford said at the meeting. “And really, this is the only way to do business, this is the only way we can sustain long-term success.”

Brian Gyurko said those claims prompted him to speak up at the meeting.

“They also said something about if your land is next to the windmills, you won’t be adversely affected,” he said. “And then all of the sudden they’re trespassing on your land and it’s like ‘What’s going on here?’…you said we weren’t going to be involved and all of the sudden we’re involved.”

The Advertiser has submitted a request for the police report filed by Michigan State Police through the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

The incident allegedly occurred Sept. 27.

Gyurko said it was early afternoon when he looked out the window and saw someone walking down the road.

The person wasn’t hard to miss because the Gyurkos live on about 80 acres near the intersection of Darbee and Cleaver roads in Almer Township. With the exception of the few homes dotting in the area, it’s farmland.

The truck – easily identifiable with a logo for the company called Atwell – was parked close to the intersection.

Southfield-based Atwell L.L.C. has been identified as handling land acquisition for NextEra and had a presence in Tuscola County throughout the year. Dave Hollander, of Atwell, has been a regular fixture at meetings in Almer and Ellington townships, always seated next to NextEra Energy Resources’ representatives and legal counsel. He was seen appearing to video record the Nov. 10 planning commission meeting.

At the Gyurko property on Sept. 27, the Atwell worker was not only walking along the public road, but going onto private property, appearing to do some kind of surveying work.

Brian Gyurko – who took a photo of the truck for his records – said he did not give the surveyor permission to be on the family’s property.

“Around here, when people wanna use our property, they ask permission,” he said. “The DTE guy was here a couple of days ago and the first thing he did was knock on the door. He didn’t just go around to the back and start messing with the cables.

“It’s a big thing in the country,” Aaron Gyruko said.

Brian Gyurko said it was highly unusual for someone to be on the property in such a manner, and clarified that the only people other than the family who should be on the property are the farmers to whom they rent the land.

He said it isn’t uncommon for people to even ask if they can hunt in the woods at the far edge of the property, to which the answer is always no.

Brian Gyurko said he asked the man what he was doing, though he knew the man appeared to be carrying surveying equipment.

“I asked him ‘What are you doing? Who do you work for?’” he said. “I said ‘Do you work for the government? Federal? State? County? Township?’ And he said no to all of that.”

Brian Gyurko said the surveyor said he worked for a “private company” and was conducting “private business.”

“I said ‘You’re on private property and I don’t think that qualifies you to be here,’” he said.

The surveyor packed up his equipment and left, driving a short distance down the road and stopping again.

Brian Gyurko said he didn’t go far enough, though, because the surveyor proceeded to walk into the middle of the family’s 80 acres and went right back to work. Gyurko added there is no question that the surveyor was in the middle of the field and not along the edge of the road or property.

“I know where the property stakes are because I put them up this summer,” Aaron Gyurko said.

Brian Gyurko said he didn’t try to engage with the surveyor further.

“That’s when I decided I wasn’t going to confront him a second time and I called the police,” Gyurko said. “I told them that my understanding of trespassing was that you ask them to leave and if they don’t leave, then that’s when you let the cops get involved.”

Bryan Garner, manager of communications, NextEra Energy Resources, said the Atwell crew was in the township that day doing surveying work.

“They were doing boundary work on the Vollmar Farm L.L.C., which is a landowner who participates in the Tuscola III project,” Garner wrote in an email. “While working on the east line of the Vollmar parcel, a resident of the adjacent parcel (Gyurko) asked the crew to leave.”

Garner said the crew left and flagged down a Michigan State Police trooper when she was seen driving toward the property.

“The crew chief flagged the trooper down and discussed the incident with her,” Garner wrote. “She indicated she would talk to the resident.”

Brian Gyurko said he was the one talking with the officer.

“She had the attitude of ‘Just let him finish and he’ll be on his way,’” he said. “Then she wanted to debate on whether or not he was actually trespassing.”

Gyurko said he was confused by the interaction because he was the one asking for help.

“She advocated on his behalf and made every possible excuse she could think of,” he said.

Garner said NextEra Energy Resources officials instruct survey teams “to stay on land that is signed as part of the project.” He also noted that per Michigan law, surveyors are permitted to enter a parcel in order to perform surveys (provided it’s not for a building).

Still, the incident left a bad taste in the mouths of the Gyurkos, though Brian Gyurko and Aaron Gyurko said they don’t expect anything else to come of the incident.

Their hope, however, is that people will consider their experience when working or thinking about working with a wind energy company – which is why they are speaking up about it now.

“You can’t take it at face value,” Aaron Gyurko said. “You have to be skeptical about what people are saying or what people are selling you.”

Source: http://www.tuscolatoday.com...


Comment by Robert Goldman on December 23, 2015 at 12:39pm
Mr. Wisconsin farmer,
Wisconsin is a state full of people doing the wrong thing for the land and wildlife and the future. Wisconsin people perpetrate some of the most abusive and cruel "sport" killing of native wildlife, wolves, black bears, raccoons, coyotes, anything that moves. It is not the wholesome state of its reputation. It is one of the worst states in the country for persecution and abuse of native wildlife, right up there with Idaho, New Mexico, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Maine. With these destructive turbines, you are now killing even more wildlife. We all make mistakes. And you sir, made a terrible mistake, that hurt your land, your relationships and your community. Thank you for being a horrible example of how to ruin your life with one stupid, uninformed, greed-based decision. Yes, life is short and you blew it. Let this be a cautionary tale for others. Be kind to the land, be kind to native wildlife, be a good neighbor. Our life in this earth is brief.

Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."



Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” https://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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We have the facts on our side. We have the truth on our side. All we need now is YOU.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

 -- Mahatma Gandhi

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Vince Lombardi 

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