Montana Solar and Wind Easements

July 26, 2021

Summary

Brief

Montana's solar and wind easement provisions allow property owners to create solar and wind easements for the purpose of protecting and maintaining proper access to sunlight and wind. Solar easements should be negotiated with neighboring property owners. Montana's solar easement law was enacted in 1979; the wind easement law was originally enacted in 1983.

Solar Easements:

  1. An easement must be created in writing and is subject to the same conveyancing and instrument recording requirements as other easements on real property.
  1. The easement must specify (1) the vertical and horizontal angles, expressed in degrees, at which the solar easement extends over the real property subject to the solar easement; and any terms or conditions under which the solar easement is granted or will be terminated.

Wind Easements:

In April 2011, the provisions related to wind easements were repealed by House Bill 295 (2011) and replaced with more extensive wind easements provisions. This legislation defines wind energy rights as property rights and specifies that real property owners can enter into an agreement to grant a wind easement to give wind energy developers the right to use real property and the wind resource located on or flowing over the real property to develop a project. The agreement details provisions such as requirements that the property owner "ensure the undisturbed flow of wind on and over the real property", tax liability related to wind equipment, and compensation to the property owner. A property owner can either enter into a wind energy agreement or a wind option agreement. The former is the document that contains the wind easement and the latter is a document where a property owner grants a developer the exclusive right to obtain a wind easement.  Wind option agreements generally only last for 20 years, unless extended. The wind easement that is created runs with the property.

Requirements: A wind option agreement executed after April 21, 2011, must contain but is not limited to:

  • the names and addresses of the parties to the wind option agreement;
  • a legal description of the real property subject to the wind option agreement;
  • the specified term beyond which the wind option agreement terminates and the real property is released from the obligations outlined in the wind option agreement;
  • compensation for the owner of the real property on and over which the wind resource flows; and
  • A wind option agreement must be notarized.

Wind energy agreements -- grandfather clause. This part may not be construed to alter, amend, diminish, or invalidate wind energy rights acquired by contract, agreement, or lease prior to April 21, 2011.


Program Overview

Implementing Sector: State
Category: Regulatory Policy
State: Montana
Incentive Type: Solar/Wind Access Policy
Web Site: http://deq.mt.gov/Energy/Renewable/NetMeterRenew.mcpx
Administrator:
Start Date:
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies:
  • Solar - Passive
  • Solar Water Heat
  • Solar Space Heat
  • Solar Thermal Electric
  • Solar Thermal Process Heat
  • Solar Photovoltaics
  • Wind (All)
  • Wind (Small)

Authorities

Name: MCA § 70-17-301 et seq.
Date Enacted: 1979 (solar), 1983 (wind)
Expiration Date: None
Name: HB 295
Date Enacted: 4/21/11
Effective Date: 4/21/11
Name: MCA § 70-17-405

Contact

Name: Garrett Martin
Organization: Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Address: 1520 East Sixth Ave
Helena MT 59620-0901
Phone: (406) 444-6582
Email: gmartin@mt.gov

This information is sourced from DSIRE; the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University.