• Last modified 439 days ago (May 10, 2023)


Wind farm outlines options for overpayment

Staff writer

Orsted, which owns Sunflower Wind, has sent letters to landowners it overpaid asking them to choose one of two options to rectify the mistake.

Orsted told landowners such as Eugene and Betty Just, who have a turbine on their property near Aulne, to choose whichever options would work best for them. The letter to the Justs says they could:

  • Retain any payment as an advance payment toward the quarterly annual minimum turbine rent payment. Acreage payments as scheduled.
  • Return the full excess payment and receive quarterly payments would continue as scheduled.

The letter said the Justs could inform Orsted of their decision by checking a box on the form and returning it or by contacting four parties whose phone numbers appear on the letter.

Just, an 84-year-old farmer and rancher, received a check for $10,000 for installation. Because only one turbine was installed on land he and his wife own, he should have received $5,000.

Orsted acknowledged overpayments in a previous Record story.

“There was a system error which resulted in inaccurate landowner payments from our Sunflower Wind project,” Orsted spokesman Charlotte Bellotte wrote in an earlier email to the Record when the newspaper reported about the problem. “We are working with the landowners to address the overpayment and accommodate for their individual situations.”

The Justs took their check to the bank.

Just said most people he had talked to had done the same, believing the money was theirs.

Lyle Leppke received a check “in the vicinity” of $55,000, he told the Record last month.

He put it on his refrigerator.

He still hasn’t cashed it. He said Friday he thought everything would be made right.

Just, however, has some concerns. One is that the mix-up could affect his family’s taxes. Orsted will issue a 1099 to landowners next year. Just wants to make sure the figure has been corrected by then because he doesn’t want to pay taxes on an extra $5,000.

Another concern is about whether future mixups will occur.

“I don’t know whether anyone has signed it yet,” Just said of the letters such as the one he and his wife received from Orsted. “I told them I wasn’t going to sign it until someone came and just explained it all to me. They told me they’d be out within a couple weeks. They’ve said that before, but I haven’t seen them.”

Just doesn’t regret allowing a turbine on his family’s land.

But the overpayment, he said, “makes you wonder a little bit.”

“We took all of this on faith about how things were going to go,” he said. “Now you kind of wonder in the future what’s going to happen. I’m not saying that they’re not going to take care of it. But will they come back later and say something else is wrong?”

Landowners were supposed to receive an installation fee of $5,000 per turbine.

“On an annual basis, you are also entitled to receive no less than $2,000 per megawatt of capacity installed on your property paid in quarterly installments, with an annual balance of excess rent owed based on upon revenue percentage due March 1st of the following year,” Orsted’s letter to Just indicated. The turbines installed on your property each have a MW capacity rating of 2.83, therefore it is expected for you to be owed no less than an annual sum of $5,600 as wind turbine rent for each turbine installed on your property.”

Last modified May 10, 2023