Gag clause

Jun 3, 2011

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Editor’s note:  The following article is reprinted verbatim from Better Plan, Wisconsin, with appreciation.  WTS.com recommends Better Plan as one of the best, most up-to-date websites on the matter of wind energy.  All praise to Lynda Barry for running the site!

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Question
:  What’s black and white and you can’t talk about it for the rest of your life?
Answer:  Sorry. I signed a wind lease. I can’t discuss it.

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Better Plan, Wisconsin has been collecting copies of wind leases for the last few years and has yet to find one that didn’t contain a confidentiality agreement—also known as a “gag order.”

Landowners who share wind leases are taking a clear risk, but more are coming forward anyway. One farmer who shared his contract said, “I don’t care anymore. I just don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

The section below is copied from a wind lease contract recently sent to us. The landowner who signed it agreed to allow noise, vibration, shadow flicker and any other disruption the turbines might cause to take place on his property. If he has problems with these things, he can’t talk about it because the gag order requires that he:

» Not to talk about the contents of lease to anyone.

» Not to talk about the construction or operation of the turbines.

» Not speak to reporters or anyone in the media or issue statements or press releases unless the wind company gives the landowner its written permission.

The landowner also had to agree that the gag order would still apply long after the turbines are gone, because this line, “This section shall survive the termination of expiration of this lease,” means this gag oder is forever.

The landowner can talk to his lawyer or accountant and certain others about the contract, but only after they agree to a gag order too.
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Straight from the Contract:

Confidentiality

(Landowner) shall maintain in strictest confidence, for the sole benefit of (wind developer), all information pertaining to the terms and conditions of this lease, including, without limitation, the construction and power production of the wind farm.

Without first obtaining written permission from the (wind developer), (the landowner) shall not issue any statements or press releases or respond to any inquires from news media regarding such matters.

(Landowner) shall maintain the strictest confidence, for the sole benefit of the (wind developer), all information pertaining to the terms and conditions of this lease, including, without limitation, the financial terms hereof.

This section shall survive the termination of expiration of this lease.

Nothing in this section shall prohibit sharing or disclosing information with any party’s (lawyer), accountants, or current or prospective investors, purchases, lenders, or as required by law, provided that the party sharing or disclosing such information requires the recipient to maintain the confidentiality of such disclosed information.

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