Friday, November 28, 2008

Individuality and privacy take a back seat as landowners jointly bargain with wind companies

A story by Felicity Barringer in today's New York Times tells how ranchers in windy southeastern Wyoming are banding together to negotiate with wind companies seeking right-of-ways across their properties. She reports on new cooperatives of land owners, which represent "a departure from the local culture of privacy and self-reliance." Eight such associations have sprung up in Wyoming. Similar groups exist in neighboring Colorado and Montana, among other states.

Barringer's story explains the benefits of such associations and how they developed:

This allows them to bargain collectively for a better price and ensures that as few as possible succumb to high-pressure tactics or accept low offers. Ranchers share information about the potential value of their wind.

* * *

That has made it easier for wind developers to make individual deals and insist that the terms be kept secret. The developers’ cause has not been hurt by a 10-year drought’s impact on agricultural families’ finances.

One of the richest aspects of the story is a quote from Larry Cundall, a rancher who heads one of the cooperatives. He reports that 126 people came from up to 60 miles away to attend the cooperative's organizational meeting, which Cundall said had, “the feeling of an old country dance. Afterward,” he went on, “everyone stood around and visited like we did before we had TV.”

A map accompanying the story shows the territories covered by several of the cooperatives.

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