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Tuscola man drops wind farm lawsuit, says he plans to refile

A lawsuit brought against the Taylor County Commissioners Court in April for granting what the plaintiff claims are illegal tax abatements to wind farms in the county was dropped Thursday with little fanfare. Tuscola resident Dale Rankin, an opponent of wind energy, filed the lawsuit in April alleging that wind energy equipment is not eligible for tax abatements under the state tax code. Rankin said he decided to "nonsuit," or essentially drop, the lawsuit because of what he called "procedural issues." However, he said he plans to refile the lawsuit.

A lawsuit brought against the Taylor County Commissioners Court in April for granting what the plaintiff claims are illegal tax abatements to wind farms in the county was dropped Thursday with little fanfare.

Tuscola resident Dale Rankin, an opponent of wind energy, filed the lawsuit in April alleging that wind energy equipment is not eligible for tax abatements under the state tax code.

Rankin said he decided to "nonsuit," or essentially drop, the lawsuit because of what he called "procedural issues."

However, he said he plans to refile the lawsuit.

"When you're dealing with the county, there are so many peculiar procedures you have to follow," he said. "It's not a difficult lawsuit; it's just when you are dealing with a government entity, there are certain procedures you have to follow."

In 2004 and 2006, Taylor County commissioners granted five tax abatements potentially worth $5 million to $10 million to three companies that have built farms of wind turbines in rural areas of the county, according to Reporter-News files.

The Texas Tax Code allows a county to grant a tax abatement to the owner of taxable real property, which is... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A lawsuit brought against the Taylor County Commissioners Court in April for granting what the plaintiff claims are illegal tax abatements to wind farms in the county was dropped Thursday with little fanfare.

Tuscola resident Dale Rankin, an opponent of wind energy, filed the lawsuit in April alleging that wind energy equipment is not eligible for tax abatements under the state tax code.

Rankin said he decided to "nonsuit," or essentially drop, the lawsuit because of what he called "procedural issues."

However, he said he plans to refile the lawsuit.

"When you're dealing with the county, there are so many peculiar procedures you have to follow," he said. "It's not a difficult lawsuit; it's just when you are dealing with a government entity, there are certain procedures you have to follow."

In 2004 and 2006, Taylor County commissioners granted five tax abatements potentially worth $5 million to $10 million to three companies that have built farms of wind turbines in rural areas of the county, according to Reporter-News files.

The Texas Tax Code allows a county to grant a tax abatement to the owner of taxable real property, which is defined as improvements, which include buildings and structures erected on a property. According to Section 312.402(a) of the code, ordinarily improvements owned by a company leasing land are not real property but personal property and not eligible for an abatement.

Rankin's lawsuit alleges that wind farms, which are built on leased land, are not eligible for the abatements, which would give tax relief to the wind energy companies for up to 10 years.

Wind energy companies can receive an income tax credit of 2 cents per kilowatt hour of wind energy they produce for the first 10 years of production, according to the American Wind Energy Association. The tax credit expires at the end of the year but can be renewed.

Rankin has said that the companies would not build the turbines if the abatements and tax credits were not available because the energy production system is too inefficient to be profitable, according to Reporter-News files.

"No matter where you put them, and we don't think a wind farm should be built ever with public money," he said in April, stating taxpayers pay the majority of costs to build the turbines.

The assistant district attorney who represented the county in the case declined to comment Thursday, directing all questions to Taylor County District Attorney James Eidson.

"We were prepared to defend the tax abatements," Eidson said. "But we raised a number of issues and challenged the lawsuit on a number of procedural grounds. We prepared a substantive defense."

The case will have its day in court, Rankin said.

"We're going to refile (the suit)," he said. "We will be back."


Source: http://reporternews.com/new...

AUG 1 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/16276-tuscola-man-drops-wind-farm-lawsuit-says-he-plans-to-refile
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