Tax Breaks & Subsidies and Indiana
Officials with Indiana's wind energy industry say they are relieved by Congress' one-year extension of a tax credit but contend it will take a longer-term approach to grow the business and create jobs in the state.
The company requested a 10-year tax abatement for the construction of between 31 and 94 wind turbines in Prairie Township and the western portion of Liberty Township.
Development of the project is contingent on the federal government extending a wind energy tax credit, which is scheduled to expire on Dec. 31.
More than 50 opponents came to the council meeting this past Monday, and more than a dozen speakers came out against a proposal to cover most of Prairie Township and the area between Sharpsville and U.S. 31 with wind turbines.
Residents who oppose wind energy projects had previously argued against any extension beyond the 12 months previously granted by county zoning rules.
But the new 18-month window is much closer to what those land owners wanted, compared to the three-year window originally requested by Invenergy.
Phipps said there are three standards to be looked at when considering abatement: job creation or retention; amount of income tax increase the project brings; and the increase in the taxable assessed property value. The project fails on two. "It is a $6 million abatement, and taxpayers are going to see three permanent jobs and less than $15,000 in an increase to local income tax collection." Phipps said.
Wind farms could be more valuable to local communities than riverboat casinos, but not if they don't pay their fair share of local property taxes.
"The ones we've looked at, on average, the state is assessing each windmill an average of $1 million," said accountant Gregory Guerrettaz, president of Financial Solutions Group in Indianapolis. "So right there, you could be losing a differential of $4 million on taxes during the life of that windmill."
State Rep. Jack Lutz, R-Anderson, is facing criticism for opposing legislation to mandate the development of wind energy in Indiana.
“Lutz’s response is that utilities should be free to set their own standards,” said rural Delaware County health worker Lee Ann Mengelt, a Democrat running for Lutz’s seat in the Nov. 7 election.
Lutz said he opposed a proposed renewable electricity standard after co-chairing a legislative committee hearing that considered the issue in Muncie recently.
The legislation would require each electricity supplier in Indiana to generate at least 10 percent of its total electricity from renewable energy sources — such as energy crops, organic waste, methane from landfills, solar cells and panels, fuel cells and wind — by 2017.
FOWLER -- Orion Energy LLC is moving closer to getting its Benton County wind farm project off the ground.
The seven-member Benton County Council voted unanimously Thursday morning to approve a resolution that designates York and Richland townships as economic revitalization areas.
That action clears the way for the council to consider a 10-year tax abatement for Orion. The company is planning to place a maximum of 135 electricity-generating wind turbines on farmland in the two townships in the northwest part of the county.
Wind-energy proponents did not convince state Rep. Jack Lutz on Tuesday that Indiana should require electric companies to generate at least 10 percent of their electricity from wind, solar and other renewable sources by 2017.
“I was very thrilled when I heard in August that Duke Energy did it voluntarily,” said Lutz, a Republican from Anderson who chairs the House Utilities and Energy Committee. “I think that’s proof we don’t need to mandate it.”
Indiana’s first wind farm — to include up to 135 wind turbines — is under development on 10,000 acres in Benton County. Duke Energy Indiana has agreed to buy electricity from the project.
During a day-long meeting Tuesday of the Indiana General Assembly’s Regulatory Flexibility Committee, which Lutz co-chairs, spokesmen said Indiana’s electric companies have been experimenting with generating electricity from the sun, animal waste, switch grass, wind and landfill gas.
With the state pushing the use of corn for gasoline, environmentalists and a group of farmers are fighting an uphill battle to have Indiana take a closer look at using windmills as power plants.
The Indiana Coalition for Renewable Energy and Economic Development plans to push for legislation to require electric companies to provide at least 10 percent of their power from renewable resources by 2017.
Similar requirements are in place in 20 other states.......The bill faces stiff opposition from utilities and Gov. Mitch Daniels, who opposed a similar bill this year.
MUNCIE -- The ethanol industry in East Central Indiana is on the verge of a rapid expansion. Could that be followed by a wind energy boom? Yes, according to the Indiana Coalition for Renewable Energy and Economic Development (INCREED), which is trying to build support for state legislation to jump-start the wind-power industry in Indiana.
"One of the things we want to dispel is that we don't have any wind capacity in Indiana," said Grant Smith, executive director of Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, during a trip to Muncie last week.
FOWLER -- No opposition to a wind farm project proposed for Benton County was expressed during a public meeting here Thursday night.
But some people would like to see Orion Energy LLC bring a little more cash to the table.
The Benton County Council held the meeting to take comments on a resolution that designates Richland and York townships as economic revitalization areas.
That step is necessary before the council can consider providing a 10-year tax abatement to the Oakland, Calif.-based company which is designing a wind farm that would place a maximum of 135 electricity-generating wind turbines on farm land in the two townships.
A day after a landmark energy security summit in West Lafayette, a coalition of farm and consumer groups want to blow new life into the push for wind-generated electricity in Indiana.
The Indiana Coalition for Renewable Energy and Economic Development (ICREED) wants the state to pass a renewable electricity standard, which would require 10 percent of Indiana's electricity to be generated from sources such as wind and bio-mass by 2017.