Is construction on the Cape Wind Farm finally about to get under way? Read more
Minnesota Power has notified the North Dakota Public Service Commission of its intent to begin the second phase of the Bison Wind Farm project in central North Dakota. The additional capacity will increase total power generation to 185 MW. The Bison 2 wind project will use 35 3-megawatt turbines manufactured by Siemens AG. Further expansion of the Great Plains wind farm is planned to meet Minnesota’s mandate for 25 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2025.
“The timing is fortunate for expanding our renewable energy production,” said Alan Hodnik, president and CEO of Minnesota Power’s parent company, ALLETE. “Development of Bison 2 will leverage substantial investments we’ve already made in North Dakota and take advantage of the federal production tax credit and a very competitive wind turbine market.”
“Bison 2 will be very economical for our customers,” Hodnik added. “This project is an example of our larger strategy of meeting the demands of a changing energy landscape, reducing our overall reliance on fossil fuels, and making effective use of existing transmission capacity.”
Electricity generated by the Bison Wind Farm travels to Minnesota via transmission lines used for coal-generated power from the Milton Young station near Center, North Dakota.
Read more HERE.
In December, the Georgia State Properties Commission unanimously approved the acquisition of 10,015 acres of land in Houston County for $28.7 million from Oaky Woods Properties LLC. The Middle Georgia acreage is part of 16,000 acres in Oaky Woods west of the Ocmulgee River already under lease by the state.
At $2,865+ per acre, the acquisition cost is almost double the property’s price in 2004, which is when the State of Georgia declined the opportunity to acquire it previously.
The China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has purchased a 33.3% undivided interest in Chesapeake Energy’s 600,000 net oil and natural gas leasehold acres in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas. The deal was CNOOC’s first to close in the U.S. since its failed 2005 Unocal bid.
Deal terms included $1.08 billion in cash, plus an additional $40 million payment adjustment at closing. CNOOC has also agreed to fund 75% of Chesapeake’s share of drilling and completion costs up to $1.08 billion, which Chesapeake expects to occur by year-end 2012.
Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon, who also is a Land Report 100er, said , “We are very pleased to have partnered with CNOOC Limited in completing our fifth industry shale development transaction. We look forward to accelerating the development of this large domestic oil and natural gas resource, resulting in a reduction of our country’s oil imports over time, the creation of thousands of high-paying jobs in the U.S. and the payment of very significant local, state and federal taxes.”
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has sold conservation easements covering 89,000 acres in New York’s Adirondack Mountains to the State of New York. The deal is the most recent transaction related to the conservancy’s 2007 purchase of 161,000 acres of Finch Paper Holdings forestlands. In 2009, it sold 92,000+ acres of this timberland to a subsidiary of the Danish pension fund ATP for $30+ million. TNC has now the sold conservation rights and certain access rights to 30 miles of snowmobile trails on the ATP land to the state for $30 million.
According to the New York Times:
The latest transaction will result in improved public access to thousands of acres of forest, the Nature Conservancy said. It includes provisions for a better network of snowmobile trails in the region, important to the winter tourist economies of several small towns. The plan, approved by 27 towns on or near the former Finch lands, relieves some villages of having to make annual lease payments for snowmobile trails.
“It’s a very exciting day for us, and I think a really strategic investment by the state of New York in the Adirondack economy, and really, the tourism economy of the state,” said Michael T. Carr, executive director of the Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy.
Mr. Carr said the conservation easement contains an innovative provision meant to allow biologists of the future greater flexibility in coping with climate change. With species expected to migrate north and to migrate higher up mountain slopes in a warming world, the conservation easement requires biological monitoring and a re-examination of management plans for the property, allowing for course corrections to be made if plants or animals require greater protection.
Tejon Ranch (TRC) will sell five conservation easements covering some 62,000 acres of the 270,000-acre property to the California Wildlife Conservation Board for $15.8 million. The transaction is yet another step by California’s largest private landowner to monetize remote areas of the ranch with little near-term development potential.
The following, more complete account of the transaction was posted at Tejon Ranch’s website:
Tejon Ranch Co. (NYSE: TRC) announced today the California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB), has approved the purchase, for $15.8 million, of five conservation easements covering approximately 62,000 acres of land located on various portions of the 270,000 acre Tejon Ranch. This furthers the implementation of the historic Tejon Ranch Conservation and Land Use Agreement signed in 2008. The 62,000 acres is a component of the 240,000 acres designated for protection under the 2008 agreement.
The $15.8 million purchase price represents the conservation easement value for the acreage as determined by an independent appraisal directed by the WCB. The WCB, at its November 18, 2010 Board Meeting, accepted the appraisal and authorized the use of existing bond funds approved by California voters in 2006 under Proposition 84 to acquire the conservation easements. Tejon Ranch Co. will retain fee ownership of the 62,000 acres and continue to operate current revenue generating activities including farming, cattle grazing, filming, oil and gas and other mineral exploration and production on portions of the acreage. The conservation easements will preclude the Company from pursuing any long term development on the 62,000 acres. This transaction allows the Company to realize an immediate value, as opposed to what possibly could have been realized through development of those areas sometime in the distant future.
“The Wildlife Conservation Board’s action gives the Company an opportunity to monetize, in the near term, potential long-term value associated with these remote areas of the Ranch that have little, if any, near-term development potential,” said Michael H. Winer, Portfolio Manager for Third Avenue Management LLC, the Company’s largest shareholder, and member of the Tejon Ranch Co. Board of Directors. “Further, it will preserve in perpetuity the environmentally important values of these lands through the imposition of conservation easements, administered by the independent Tejon Ranch Conservancy.”
The 62,000 acres represents the total acreage of five separate acquisition areas negotiated as part of the 2008 Conservation and Land Use Agreement. In that Agreement, the Resource Groups: Audubon California, Endangered Habitats League, Natural Resources Defense Council, Planning and Conservation League, and the Sierra Club, were given an option to acquire conservation easements over those areas. This action today by the WCB fulfills that option. The remaining balance of the property protected by conservation easements as defined within the landmark Agreement, approximately 178,000 acres, will be dedicated by Tejon Ranch Co. to the Conservancy over the next several decades as the Company achieves entitlement and ultimately develops the communities of Tejon Mountain Village, Centennial and the future 12,400 acre planning area at the base of the Grapevine.
Robert A. Stine, President and CEO of Tejon Ranch Company, stated, “today’s action by the WCB is the culmination of a long process involving many entities who came to the table with a vision and desire to create a new way to resolve the competing interests of land development and environmental preservation. In that regard, I am grateful for the role our partner in Tejon Mountain Village, DMB Associates, and its CEO, Eneas Kane, played in assisting Tejon Ranch in achieving the landmark agreement, which today’s action by the WCB fully embraces. This action is a major positive step forward for our company and its shareholders. It allows us to continue current revenue generating operations; to realize current revenue from the sale of easements on longer term potential land development opportunities; and proceed with Tejon Mountain Village, Centennial and the 12,400 acre development opportunities at the base of the Grapevine. All of these actions will result in greater shareholder value. Further, this is a major milestone in preserving in perpetuity environmentally important property for future generations of Californians to enjoy.” Additional steps are required before the sale of the easements will close, including the filing of various public notices, the completion of title review and the execution of the Grant Agreement between the WCB and the Tejon Ranch Conservancy.
First it was ethanol and the price per acre in the Corn Belt. Then oil and gas began propping up land values in mineral-rich areas such as the huge shales found coast to coast. Now other commodities are driving other forgotten or overlooked real estate markets, including an out-of-the-way section in Far West Texas where the state’s richest silver mine is slated to reopen after a seven decades of inactivity, according to this press release. Read more
Whether you own a quarter-acre urban lot or a 40,000-acre ranch, your love of the land comes from the moment you pick up a handful of ground and watch the dirt fall through your fingers, knowing that it’s yours—all yours. But while there’s that intangible, visceral satisfaction of ownership, let’s not ignore the other benefit—profit. From energy stocks to timber REITs and ski resorts to cattle ranches, a diverse group of equities is tied to the enormous natural resources of land. Read more