Landowners could be hit with wind, solar wind-up costs

·2-min read

Landholders have been warned a loophole could leave them with enormous bills to dismantle solar and wind power infrastructure.

For years now, mining companies have had to put up decommissioning bonds to make sure they clean up after themselves when operations end.

But Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner Andrew Dyer says the same can't be said of wind and solar power projects.

And he warns landowners must exercise great caution when negotiating access agreements to make sure they're not lumbered with the problem.

"It's up to the commercial arrangement between the landholder and the proponent," Mr Dyer has told a budget estimates hearing.

"It's no different to you owning the milk bar, as a commercial landlord down the main street in town.

"If the tenant defaults and leaves the building you're stuck with the bain-marie."

Mr Dyer said some landholders were quite savvy, and had struck agreements to ensure bonds or bank guarantees were in place but warned: "It's not across the board."

He said landowners may not realise that under the law, responsibility for cleaning up renewable power projects at the end of their lives defaults to them.

"So it's up to the landlord to make sure that they ... get a really good contract in place, and you get the appropriate bond set-ups to cover the costs."

He said it costs more money to pull down a wind turbine than to put one up.

"The cost of pulling a turbine down may exceed the revenue you get for 25 years, so that's not a good outcome," he said.

He cited one case of a damaged wind turbine in Queensland.

"The bed plate cracked and you couldn't go near the turbine because it would fall on your head. That cost millions of dollars to take down with robots and explosives."

"So you can be stuck with some big bills."

Landholders can get advice from the commissioner's office.