It is increasingly common for renewable energy projects to make financial, or in kind, payments to local communities. These arrangements are variously described as ‘benefits payments’ or ‘compensation schemes’. Similar approaches are now being recommended for other forms of development with potential to engender opposition from local communities (e.g. nuclear power and fracking). While such payments are common, the level of payment, the institutional frameworks involved, and the nature of discourse, varies greatly. Existing literature has sought to record, rather than explain, the diversity of arrangements. To a large extent this diversity is rooted in the power dynamic between developer and community. Three UK case studies are used to highlight the diversity of arrangements, meanings, and power balances, within benefits arrangements.