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8/15/11 "Landmen" behaving badly: Step by step instructions for bagging a rural mid-westerner AND Dr. Salt talks about survey tricks


Wind developers-- sometimes called "landmen"-- a term for those who get rural property owners to sign long-term leases to permit development on their property-- use a lot of the same tactics used in the gas industry to get those contracts signed.

A memo that recently surfaced in Ohio lays those strategies out. For those of us who have been following the story of how Big Wind came to Wisconsin, these tactics are identical to those used to get rural landowners in our state to sign onto contracts with wind developers they now regret.

"Remember, if at all possible, try not to deliberately mislead the landowner."


According to an article in Businessweek.com, a memo that appears to coach buyers of oil and gas drilling leases in rural Ohio to use deceptive tactics on unsuspecting landowners surfaced earlier this spring.

"Door-to-door lease buyers called "landmen" have proliferated for months in hopes of landing rights that will give their companies access to potential energy riches."

This memo tells them 'how to hunt and catch a rural mid-westerner'



 Know your demographics!

We have paid for an analysis of Ohio and its people. Use that Data.

 Ohio is a conservative leaning, Mid-west state. The typical Ohio resident will welcome you into their home and allow you to speak. This is critical. Face to face interaction can make all the difference.

Most mid-west Americans dislike confrontation. Even if they disagree on a selling point, they are unlikely to confront you over it. Therefore it is critical to obtain a lease signature at the first meeting or at least the agreement to sign and take the lease to a notary.

Drive them to the notary if you have to. If they have time to think it over, they are more likely to decline the offer.

Provide the overall position of the nation

Most landowners will be patriotic Americans and will desire to free our nation from foreign oil dependence...Fear of foreign encroachment is the biggest asset we have in selling our development strategy. Our analysis of Ohio shows that even the most liberal landowners will agree on this point.

ALWAYS start your conversation with a new potential signee on a point they will agree with. This is pure psychology. They will be more likely to let you stay and talk. Studies show the longer you talk, the more chance we have of signing.

At any point in the pitch, if talk turns to local issues, environmental hazards etc-- a good way to re-direct hte conversation is to re-engage over the nation's energy needs....

Talk about our business

... More educated landowners may know that we often sell our land leases to larger corporations. While this is often true, we don't always sell our interests. So it is reasonable to say we plan all developemnt in Ohio without partners. Future plans do not need to be fully disclosed......


Truck Traffic: There will be extra traffic, but stress that we will do everything to keep it to a minimum... just tell landowners the more trucks, the more royalties. Money will usually deflect most arguments. Return to the nation's energy needs if you need to.

Noise: If pressed for details tell them we monitor noise to endure it is approximately [#] decibels at [#] feet.

They will not likely understand the details and will not admit that the technical data means little to them. Do not compare it to anything tangible, like train noise or airplane noise.

Stick with the numbers. They provide the truth but make it hard to understand the exact implication.


If a landowner is undecided, there are several ways to offer incentives:

-Offer a slight increase in the initial lease payment. Even a $50 increase may be enough to sway the decision. Tell them it's to cover the Notary Public costs. That way you are making a concession without caving and getting into a negotiation. Mid-west Americans appreciate feeling valued. This will work in your favor.

-Tell the landowner that all their neighbors have signed. Even if the neighbors have not, this will often push an undecided landowner in favor of signing. Remember, the first visit is the most crucial. They will not know if their neighbors have signed and even if they do they will want to sign so they do not lose out on potential profits. Once they have signed, you can show those leases to undecided neighbors for added pressure.


Why pro-wind studies often use a 10 km radius

by Alec Salt, Professor, Department of Otolaryngology, Washington University School of Medicine

Last week I was reading of an Australian study, by a Professore Gary Wittert, which had shown sleeping pill usage for those living near wind turbines was no greater than the general population .

The study compared those living within 10 km of turbines with those living more than 10 km away. There have been similar studies with property values using a 5 mile or 10 km radius that showed property values are not affected by wind turbines.  Had you ever thought why they pick a 10 km radius?

Consider this graphic. It shows 1 km bands with the calculated area for each band shown in blue.

Let’s keep it easy and assume that households are evenly distributed and there is one household for every 10 square kilometers.

So, within 2 km (the two innermost bands) of the turbine, the area is 3.1 + 9.4 km2 (=12.5 km2) which would represent 1.2 households.

Now let’s consider the two outermost (9 km and 10 km) bands. The area of these bands is 53.4 + 59.7 km2 (= 113.1 km2) which represents 113 households. So the outermost bands have about TEN TIMES the number of households of those living within 2 km, making sure that the contribution of the inner bands is diluted, swamped, covered up or however else you would describe it.

Or consider if you live within 2 km of a turbine. The outer bands of those living from 2 – 10 km from the turbine adds up to 301.6 km2, which would represent 30.1 households – which is 24 TIMES the number of households within 2 km.

No wonder your voice is being “drowned out”. The bigger the circle, the more “dilution” occurs.

Add this to the list of things where “size matters”, and next time you see a study like this, consider the radius and area that was chosen. The choice of the circle size plays a major role in the result obtained and speaks volumes about the motivation of the author.

Alec Salt

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