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 subsonic 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!…