What is the difference between leasing land to a developer for a wind project and giving a developer a wind easement?

A lease gives the wind developer the right to possess the land specified in the lease. A lease should contain very specific terms about the period of time that the lease is valid and the rights and responsibilities of the landowner and the wind developer (tenant). The right to possess the land includes a certain amount of control over the land that is leased, and the landowner cannot interfere with the rights of the tenant during the period of the lease.
An easement gives limited rights to use a part of the landowner’s property. It does not transfer legal possession of the land to the wind developer. The wind developer may get the right to use the land for wind turbines and a right of way to access the turbines. In addition, the farmer may also enter a wind easement, agreeing not to build anything that might block the wind to the project.
An agreement with a wind developer might include both a lease and an easement. For example, the developer might get a lease for the land actually used by the turbines, and a right of way to travel over the farmer’s land to access the turbines, along with a wind easement. The combination of legal tools will depend on the particular situation and agreement between the parties.
For more information: Farmers’ Guide to Wind Energy: Legal Issues in Farming the Wind.
Contributor: Christy Anderson Brekken, Oregon State University