Created on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 Written by Kevon Martis Executive director Interstate Informed Citizen’s Coalition Inc. Blissfield, Mich. and Jason Dagger, Project Developer EverPower
Industrial wind and the choice before the commissioners
Logan County Commissioners will be asked to grant something to wind energy developer EverPower that residents can only dream of: a property tax reduction of 80 percent. This would come in the form of a payment in lieu of taxes or PILOT.
Recently, the Logan County Commissioners stated: “Even if we do receive an application for payment in lieu of taxes and it is denied, the wind developer would still be able to build the wind turbines.”
We agree. Rejecting tax abatement for Scioto Ridge may not stop the wind development. But the decision to make local taxpayers forego tax revenue will have consequences that should be understood.
First: EverPower parent, Terra Firma Capital partners, a UK private equity investor, will be delighted to have their return on investment pumped up by the good people of rural Ohio. It will be the icing on the cake already funded by U.S. taxpayers through billions in federal tax credits that subsidize one third of the capital costs of wind projects.
After collecting from our Federal Treasury, the British private equity firm intends to strip mine the Ohio Tax Code by asking for an exemption from the Ohio Public Utility Personal Property Tax (PUPPT). This is the standard tax rate that was in place long before EverPower decided to come to Ohio and it was there before EverPower started soliciting leases and telling landowners that by signing they would help bring significant tax revenue to their communities.
Ohio’s wind resource is anemic and the Ohio mandate to buy wind generated in the states is under attack in the legislature and the courts. This mandate compels Ohio rate payers to pay far more for Ohio wind than for power purchased from windier states like Iowa or Minnesota. These higher rates fall on all of us — you, me and the companies we work for. A sweet deal if there ever was one for EverPower. It is one more form of subsidy the wind industry enjoys in Ohio.
(Logan County) Our commissioners should focus on the costs. They must consider whether there are benefits that outweigh the costs. It is clear the benefits accrue to the foreign company that has stated its intentions to exit the business before the PILOT ends in 20 years. It is clear that leaseholders will receive payments if the company is still around. And some gravel might get sold during construction of the turbine bases.
But what about the costs? The wind developers took our ability to zone. They took our property for their setbacks by measuring from homes, not property lines. When built, flashing red lights will take our night sky and the flickering shadows will invade our yards and homes. Persistent noise and sub-sonic vibrations that carry across property lines — will diminish neighbors’ rights to peaceful enjoyment of their property. With that comes property value loss.
Who would choose to live in the midst of the 50-story tall industrial wind experience? As the London School of Economics recently concluded, residential property values of non-participating parcels in the footprint of a wind fueled electric generating plant drop by 11 percent. Other studies indicate a decline of as much as 40 percent. That’s if they can find a buyer at all.
There are more than 300 non-farm rural homesteads in the proposed footprint of the Scioto Ridge project. If their average value is $100,000 and the average property value decline is only 11 percent, that’s $3.3 million that flows out of the pockets of innocent neighbors and into the pockets of project beneficiaries. And the number might be as high as $12 million. By comparison the $12 million that is so important to the rural homeowners is a measly three percent of the total taxpayer subsidies the project owners would receive based on President Obama’s staffs analysis of a similar project. You would think a wind developer with scruples would just buy out all the homes and resell them at a loss since they are using taxpayer dollars — not their own — in the first place.
We know that proposed PILOT payments would be approximately $2.7 million per year for the expected 20-year lifespan of the project. That totals $54 million over 20 years. But without the PILOT, wind industry spokesman Dayna Baird Payne estimated tax revenue would be $45,000 per megawatt (MW) — an average $13.5 million per year and $279 million dollars over 20 years!
All across America and abroad, the cost-benefit analysis of wind factories in rural communities is coming into sharper focus. The costs are financial and social. They include loss of amenity, loss of home equity, loss of property rights, loss of the community’s ability to chart its future, loss of family as some move away and loss of jobs and customers for local businesses.
If our way of life is for sale, the price offered by the PILOT is not nearly high enough. Full taxation is the only choice. It is the option the commissioners must choose.
With directors in both Ohio and Michigan, the Interstate Informed Citizen’s Coalition is a bi-partisan grassroots renewable energy watchdog group. IICC promotes energy policy that is environmentally sensitive, socially responsible and economically beneficial. The IICC is an independent voice and is not sponsored by any environmental or industry advocacy group. The IICC speaks on the behalf of thousands of rural Ohio residents living on the front lines of industrial wind development.
Scioto Ridge Wind Farm would be partnership with community
Scioto Ridge Wind Farm promises to be an economic and environmental boost for Hardin and Logan counties as it starts producing clean, renewable wind energy. Concerns addressed in recent letters to the editor left out some important information:
Safety for local residents is our number one priority. We have been very conservative with siting guidelines and move forward with the utmost attention to safety concerns. We follow industry best practices to establish setbacks and those setbacks have been thoroughly reviewed by the staff at the Ohio Power Siting Board.
In addition to creating 8 to14 full-time, permanent positions and 150 full and part-time positions during construction for families in Hardin and Logan counties, the project will generate an estimated $67 million in tax revenue through the PILOT program for local governments and school districts throughout the life of the project.
As developers of clean, renewable energy, we hold high regard for protecting the environment. We worked in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Ohio Power Siting Board to ensure we minimize any possible impacts of the project. The EverPower team worked with industry leading consultants to provide an exhaustive set of studies, which have been analyzed and are open for public comment through the OPSB process. The current design of the project is a result of this lengthy and thorough process.
EverPower has demonstrated strong partnerships with communities where our six existing wind farms operate. We look forward to continuing to contribute to the local economy and community throughout the Scioto Ridge project.