Where is the Transparency, Where is the Repsonsibility?
Kansas Needs Laws Requiring Transparency & Timely Information Disclosure
QUESTION: What do the People of Kansas know about the total existing number of Industrial Utility-Scale Solar and Wind Power Facility land lease agreements for potential projects, across the state of Kansas (and Nationwide)?
ANSWER: We know next to nothing with regards to the total acreage of potential projects, except for “hearsay” and the occasional scoop by the media. Land Lessors are required to agree to a non-disclosure when signing most Energy Company land lease agreements. This makes project transparency impossible. The general public, businesses, residential and commercial real estate professionals/developers, and non-participating landowner neighbors…are being blind sided.
JUST ONE example of this is NextEra Energy’s Boulevard Associates, LLC & West Gardner Solar, LLC aggressive agricultural land leasing that has been stealthly transpiring since 2014 in Douglas and Johnson Counties.
If you ask citizens in both of these counties if they are aware of how many acres or square miles of their county’s agriculturally zoned land has been secured by NextEra Energy for future (if approved) Industrial Utility-Scale Solar and Wind Power Facilities, Battery Energy Storage Systems and Transmission Lines…the answer is “I have no idea!”
Citizens in Douglas and Johnson Counties got frustrated not knowing how much land, in total, of their county was being leased to NextEra Energy and their LLCs that are cloaked in anonimity. So they took it upon themselves to dig in and spend the hours and dollars necessary to find out.
Below are several Maps that have been compiled to finally shed light on just how much land has been leased since 2014 by NextEra Energy (and Savion) for planned and potential Industrial Utility-Scale Solar and Wind Power Facilities, Battery Energy Storage Systems and Transmission Lines.
Developers continue to persue more land leasing too, so these maps will most likely change but at least you get an idea of the alarming amount of land being removed from agricultural use. And this is in JUST Douglas and Johnson Counties alone. This same agressive, stealth land leasing is happening everywhere, in counties across our entire beautiful state of Kansas and the rest of rural america too.
Our State is under attack! Our way of life is being destroyed by federal inflation reduction act subsidies…its a KANSASSASSINATION. If we don’t stand up and demand protection for our rural landscapes, agriculture, agribusinesses, local food systems, wildlife, ecosystems, health, safety, property values and quality of life there will be irreversible regret.
NextEra Energy’s Land Leases in JUST Douglas and Johnson Counties in Kansas
The maps below show the total number of parcels leased, as of 4/3/2023, for planned and potential Industrial Utility-Scale Solar or Wind Power Facilities in Douglas and Johnson Counties. This information is the current information available through public records. The massive amount of land acquisitions seem to be happening along the entire South half of Douglas County, North of Lawrence, and Southwest and Northwest Johnson County. Currently there are approximately 13,874.26 Acres or 21.68 Square Miles of land showing as leased by NextEra Energy’s subsidiaries Boulevard Associates, LLC and West Gardner Solar, LLC and Savion.
There are a total of approximatley 63 participating landowners/lessors and a total of 128 leased properties as of 4/3/2023.1
Map One Shows: Parcels, Quick Reference IDs for Property Details, Proximity of Leased Land to Historical Santa Fe Trail, Other Historical Sites and Flood Plains.
CLICK HERE to download the large PDF version of Map One.
Map Two Shows: Soil Types, Parcels, and Quick Reference IDs for Property Details.
CLICK HERE to download the large PDF version of Map Two.
Map Three Shows: 10 Foot Contours/Elevation/Slope, Parcels, and Quick Reference IDs for Property Details.
CLICK HERE to download the large PDF version of Map 3.
Map Four Shows: NextEra Energy’s and Savion’s Douglas and Johnson County, KS 13,874.26 Acres or 21.68 Square Miles of Industrial Utility-Scale Solar and Wind Power Facilty Land Leasing!
CLICK HERE to download the large PDF version of Map Four.
Map Five Shows: If you were to place the total acreage over the City of Lawrence how much of the city would be taken up by NextEra Energy’s Land Leases and Shell/Savion’s Project? It ends up being almost the entire City of Lawrence!
CLICK HERE to download the large PDF version of Map Five.
QUESTION: Whose responsibility is it to make a developers massive land leasing for potential Industrial Utility-Scale Solar and Wind Power Facility projects immediately transparent to the public so that citizens have this critical information? How are citizens able to make wise investment and planning decisions and to mitigate financial risk when there is zero visiblity to the total, growing number of acres in their county being secured for industrial development?
It seems County and City Long-term Comprehensive Plans aren’t worth the tax payer dollars used to create them, they aren’t even worth the paper they are printed on because unbeknownst to citizens 1,000s, upon 1,000s, upon 1,000s of acres of land designated as rural/agricultural have been stealthily leased by developers, like NextEra Energy, for Industrial Utility-Scale Solar and Wind Power Facility projects. These project developers will disregard Long-term Comprehensive Plans by requesting conditional use permits (CUPs) to convert rural character/agriculturally zoned land to industrial use.
ANSWER: It seems no responsibility is being taken for ensuring full transparency to the ever increasing amount of Kansas land that is being secured by foreign covered entities for these projects. This needs immediate attention!
If regulations are going to allow Energy Companies to request and potentially be granted CUPs, that modify land use; and that use deviates from a County or City’s Long-term Comprehensive Plan then the public needs to be made aware of the large land leasing activites that are taking place in their communities AS SOON AS IT BEGINS. Transparency should be required immediatley upon the signing of an Energy Company’s first land lease agreement in a County/City and for every lease thereafter.
SOLUTION: A Kansas State Law that requires, upon the signing of the first land lease agreement for any potential Industrial Utility-Scale Solar Power Facility project or any developer/LLC, for that matter, who is securing 300 acres or more for a project, with the intent of changing land use through CUPs:
1. Written notification of the land lease within 10 days to State, County and City Officials. The State of Kansas to document online, and make available to the public, a database tool to lookup large land leasing activity by a single company and the subsidiaries (LLCs, most often foreign covered entities) they may be operating behind.
2. Published public notice/press releases to local media within 10 days
3. Mailed letters within 10 days to all landowners, homeowners and businesses within a 3-mile radius of every land lease intended for a total project area of 300+ acres that has the intent of changing land use through CUPs.
This provides critical transparency. Transparency in turn gives individuals who are looking to invest more in their communities, their businesses and/or to further improve thier properties, a chance to take pause.
Citizens have rights and deserve timely information about land leasing for potential large scale industrial development, it should be law. Especially when projects desire to change land use that is contrary to an existing Long-term Comprehensive Plan.
Not providing timely transparency to large amounts of land leasing by a company in one area is detrimental to the citizens of that area. No transparency negatively impacts the financial security and well being of citizens. LLCs (Foreign Covered Entities) need to be thouroughly vetted by state and local officials to ensure NO Foreign Adversaries are members, managers or owners of the layered LLCs that developers hide behind.
QUESTION: How can the public easily determine what Energy Company is behind the LLCs (Foreign Covered Entities) they use to conduct business? LLCs protect Energy Companies from Liability. Multiple LLCs limit potential liability risk between each of the limited liability companies. It makes it easier to attract investors for one particular business (LLC) and even sell a business to someone else. Delaware LLCs, Cayman Island offshore accounts…these signal “lack of transparency” making it difficult for the public, state, county and city officials to investigate and fully understand who the investors, members, managers, owners are behind projects, due to the multitude of LLCs they are operating through.
For example, NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, who has numerous Industrial Utility-Scale Solar and Wind Projects in operation and/or development in Kansas, has 864 subsidiaries in the United States and 187 that operate in foreign countries. Most of heir LLCs are organized out of Delaware, not their home state of Florida. Additionally, their Palms Insurance Company, Limited (a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Capital Holdings, Inc.) is organized offshore in the Cayman Islands (this is reported by the U.S. Securities and Exchange.2
SOLUTION: A new Kansas State Law that requires, any developer, who is securing 300 acres or more for a project, with the intent of changing land use through CUPs, to provide written notification of the land lease within 10 days to State, County and City Administrators.
The State of Kansas to develop and make available to the public, an online database tool that can be used to search for large land leasing activity, by a single company and its subsidiaries. And to also reveal and display the list of all subsidiaries the company is using for their land leasing activity.
Did you know Non-US Foreign individuals, investors and LLCs are allowed to be “members” of US Limited Liability Corporations?3 This means without the state creating new laws that require transparency for developers leasing massive amounts of land, these developers can hide behind a myriad of US owned LLCs and make Non-US Foreign entities “members” of their LLCs. There are additionally many strategic ways to hide LLCs and their members, making it next to impossible for the average citizen to gain visibility to anything a behemmoth developer is doing to hide their agressive land acquistion efforts.
One last note…did you know NextEra Energy Resources, LLC raised $10 million in Series B funding for a company called LandGate which is the United States’ leading marketplace and data provider for commercial land and its resources including solar, wind, minerals, water, and carbon offsets. NextEra’s funding enabled LandGate to expand its marketing and sales efforts to increase market penetration across the country.3
1 Source: Douglas County,KS Deed Search: https://landmark.douglascountyks.org/landmarkweb and Douglas County, KS Register of Deeds: https://www.douglascountyks.org/depts/register-of-deeds
2 Source: U.S. Securities and Exchange: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/37634/000075330817000060/nee-12312016ex21.htm
3 Source: IncFile: https://www.incfile.com/blog/can-non-u.s.-residents-be-llc-members