Why Being a Good Human Helps Pave the Way for Land Acquisition

Author: TerraPro Solutions

Whether you are developing a wind, solar, storage or transmission project, it all begins with land acquisition. Suitable, appropriately zoned land, and relevant permits are critical to every project. Yet seasoned land agents estimate that only 10% of land lease or purchase agreements for renewable energy projects are ever finalized. While zoning, permitting, environmental and endangered species studies can be problematic, the greatest challenge at the outset is overcoming landowner and community opposition. Public acceptability is significantly influenced by trust in the people responsible for renewable energy projects, and the influence that local stakeholders have over decisions regarding these projects.

Wind and Solar farms are a great way to invest in your future, and they’re also a great way to invest in the future of our planet.

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It is essential that the developer be seen as an organization with integrity, one that respects the communities that are at the heart of the project.

That is why the most important part of land acquisition is building trust with the landowners and the community, long before a proposed project becomes public knowledge. This begins with a boots-on-the-ground initiative, whereby the land agent gets to know the landowners, their neighbors and relevant business and community leaders. They meet face-to-face to ask questions, exchange ideas and learn from one another. Authentic, compassionate human interaction demonstrates a concern for the people, the community and the issues that affect them. This is a powerful way to build trust and develop a local supporter base.

By spending time with the people, the land agent learns about the predictable objections to the project from their point of view. This can include loss of useable farmland, removal of existing structures, removal of trees and shrubs, concerns about endangered species, a decline in adjacent property values, or a not in my backyard attitude.

TerraPro Solutions, Renewable Energy Consultant, Kimberlee Centera

Social due diligence is essential in grasping the societal and political dynamics of the area.

Communities are typically focused on job growth, economic development, education and sustaining local traditions. In getting to know the people, their values, economics and areas of mutual interest, the benefits of the project can be presented with compelling emotional impact, not just data. It is important to always state facts in the context of what you have learned about the community. What you say is constrained by facts, but how you say it is only limited by your creativity and your understanding of the mentality of the stakeholders.

 

Many projects require large parcels of land with several owners. An effective strategy has been to focus on reaching an agreement with the owner of the largest tract. The psychological advantage gained is the fear of missing out, which often emboldens others to come on board.

Being a good human is essential in cultivating the goodwill and cooperation that leads to success. That means being reliable, being honest, being kind, compassionate, and open to listening to many points of view, even if they are contrary to the interests of your project. By demonstrating authentic concern for all stakeholders, you will be seen as part of their tribe, not an outsider who is trying to exploit their ignorance. When a solid foundation of trust is built at the outset, it empowers trust throughout the entire project life cycle. In the long run, being a good human is the best formula for success.

TerraPro Solutions, Renewable Energy Consultant, Kimberlee Centera, Land Acquisition

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