Surface rights and renewable energy

Landowner surface rights and responsibilities related to renewable energy development in Alberta.


Landowners in Alberta often have questions about their rights and responsibilities when approached by energy companies interested in developing renewable energy projects on their land. The Farmers’ Advocate Office (FAO) actively follows legislative and regulatory changes and emerging trends in the industry to provide up-to-date information and resources to our stakeholders.

Rural communities and landowners may be affected by growth in the renewable energy sector as agricultural lands are converted to industrial use. The FAO is a resource for rural Albertans who are interested in learning more about the responsible development of these projects in their area or on their lands.

Renewable energy surface leases

The FAO has published Negotiating Renewable Energy Leases as a guide for Alberta landowners who have been approached by a renewable energy developer seeking to lease land for the development and construction of a solar or wind energy power plant. Relevant information from the different regulators, departments and agencies within the province was compiled to help landowners ask informed questions and evaluate the opportunity of having a renewable energy generation project on their land or within their community.

The recommendations in this document are targeted towards lease agreements where the renewable energy developer owns and operates the technology and infrastructure, connects into the grid, and compensates the landowner for the use of the land. It is important to note that the Surface Rights Act does not extend to the negotiation of renewable energy leases. This means that landowners are not granted the same protections as they would be with oil and gas leases in relation to the determination and structure of compensation, recovery for unpaid rentals, off lease damages, and compensation review. Landowners, however, do have the right to refuse entry to their land for wind and solar projects.

The publication is not intended for micro-generation (landowners who are purchasing and installing wind or solar power generation infrastructure for their own personal use). Landowners wishing to install micro-generation infrastructure to meet their own electricity needs should visit Micro-generation in Alberta or contact the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) for additional information.

Geothermal energy developments

The Geothermal Resource Tenure Regulation is now in effect under the Mines and Minerals Act. This regulation outlines application requirements and best practices for maintaining geothermal energy leases that are issued by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER).

For more information, see: Geothermal resource development.

Applications for a 5-year Initial Term are now being accepted with the possibility of extension to a subsequent 5-year Intermediate Term, provided that development of the site is progressing. FAO staff are currently drafting a publication on how recent changes to regulation and legislation may affect landowners. Sign up for updates to receive notifications.


Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO)

Alberta Energy Regulator (AER)

Canadian Renewable Energy Association

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Connect with the FAO:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Toll free: 310-FARM (3276) (in Alberta)
Phone: 403-742-7901 (outside Alberta)
Email: [email protected] or Ask us a question online

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J.G. O'Donoghue Building
7000 113 Street
Edmonton, Alberta  T6H 5T6

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