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Renewable Energy Projects: Research and Community impacts

Renewable Energy Projects: Research and Community impacts

Rebecca Jeffriess

In our previous articles we’ve talked about what to look for when you are approached by an energy company, the impact on the agricultural productivity of your business and tax considerations.

When considering allowing a renewable project to be developed on your land, there are likely to be more than just financial impacts to consider before committing to the project.  In this article we turn to dealing with the developer when they come knocking on your door and other potential impacts, such as your engagement within the community.

Research the company
Amidst the current hype and activity in the renewable energy space, plus the increasing cost of supplies and access to necessary inputs for construction, infrastructure development is a risky business.  For this reason, if you allow a project to be built on your land, you will want to ensure you are in safe hands with a reputable company.

Conducting your own research online or talking with other community members who have dealt with the same developer may provide enough comfort for you.  Another research strategy you may consider is asking the company whether they have any other active projects and what their status is.

Seeing some of their work firsthand, speaking with those landowners about their experience, will certainly give you further insight into their business practices and the impacts you may encounter.

Some project developers offer landowners access to other sites that they have under development so that you can get a feel for what will be happening on your property.  The more examples and case studies the development company offer, the more transparent they are.

Community Impacts
If you have been approached by a developer, there will likely already be a sense on how people are feeling about these projects with your community.
When thinking about a renewable energy project, there are two key community impact elements to consider:

1. General community and political feel.
Is your community generally against this movement of creating renewable energy and the interruption to agricultural production?
If you were to move ahead with the project, would it jeopardise your standing in the community to a point that would make you uncomfortable? This may not worry some people but it may worry others and is therefore worth mentioning.
2. Potential impact to neighbouring properties
If you move ahead and your property is the one which wind turbines or solar panels are installed on, there is a very good chance that the project developer will need neighbouring properties to sign up to access agreements so they can move the electricity generated to the local grid.
Therefore, you agreeing to the project creates a chain reaction of requirements and pressure for your neighbours to also be involved. This might prove to be in everyone’s best interest; however it is advisable to have an idea on what position your decision will put your neighbours in, and how this may influence your ongoing relationship with them.
Upfront and open communication within your neighbourhood and community will typically promote harmony and also, a united front in any legal or financial negotiations.
Whilst renewable projects may create a diversified income stream for you, there are considerations to make that are not of a financial nature. The information provided above are some of these potential non-financial impacts which may prove to be just as, if not more, important as the financial impacts.
How can Moore Australia help

Our specialist team of agribusiness advisors are across the developments in the industry and can help provide guidance and feedback from what we’re seeing within the industry.  Additionally, we have the expertise and experience to assist in all aspects and can provide you with a holistic perspective on renewable energy projects, assist you with navigating discussions, reviewing and documenting your operational considerations and providing advice on tax considerations for growth sustainability.