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Town balks at sharing wind revenue; Chairman pushes for legal shift

While Randolph's chairman is optimistic about a 145-megawatt wind farm development, he's bothered by how much money - or rather how little - the town will get in the deal. ...Under the Wisconsin Department of Revenue's shared revenue utility payment guidelines, $2,000 per megawatt of power generated is split between the county and town. The county gets two-thirds, while the town gets one-third. For a 145-megawatt project, that would provide roughly $96,667 per year to be split between the towns of Randolph and Scott, which also would house some We Energies' turbines, while the county would take in about $193,332.

While Randolph's chairman is optimistic about a 145-megawatt wind farm development, he's bothered by how much money - or rather how little - the town will get in the deal.

"I don't like the revenue-sharing aspect," Town Chairman David Hughes said of the We Energies deal. "We're the ones that will have these things here. Our residents are going to be the ones dealing with any ill effects ... I think the town deserves a bigger cut of the revenue it would generate."

Under the Wisconsin Department of Revenue's shared revenue utility payment guidelines, $2,000 per megawatt of power generated is split between the county and town. The county gets two-thirds, while the town gets one-third.

For a 145-megawatt project, that would provide roughly $96,667 per year to be split between the towns of Randolph and Scott, which also would house some We Energies' turbines, while the county would take in about $193,332.

Both the county and town also would receive a $145,000 incentive payment each year, said Keith Seeley, a revenue auditor with the DOR.

But Hughes wants more.

"If it were the town taking two-thirds or three-fourths, I wouldn't complain," he said. "We need money to reinforce the budget... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

While Randolph's chairman is optimistic about a 145-megawatt wind farm development, he's bothered by how much money - or rather how little - the town will get in the deal.

"I don't like the revenue-sharing aspect," Town Chairman David Hughes said of the We Energies deal. "We're the ones that will have these things here. Our residents are going to be the ones dealing with any ill effects ... I think the town deserves a bigger cut of the revenue it would generate."

Under the Wisconsin Department of Revenue's shared revenue utility payment guidelines, $2,000 per megawatt of power generated is split between the county and town. The county gets two-thirds, while the town gets one-third.

For a 145-megawatt project, that would provide roughly $96,667 per year to be split between the towns of Randolph and Scott, which also would house some We Energies' turbines, while the county would take in about $193,332.

Both the county and town also would receive a $145,000 incentive payment each year, said Keith Seeley, a revenue auditor with the DOR.

But Hughes wants more.

"If it were the town taking two-thirds or three-fourths, I wouldn't complain," he said. "We need money to reinforce the budget at the town level."

DOR spokeswoman Jessica Iverson acknowledged the formula from which the DOR draws its revenue sharing guidelines is four years old, noting wind farm technology is still relatively new. She said different assessment methods could still be determined.

"If that happens," Seeley said, "it's going to be the Legislature's prerogative."

Wind farms are slated to get a lot of attention in the coming legislative session, but state Sen. Jeff Plale, the South Milwaukee Democrat who led the failed charge for wind farm siting standards at a statewide level last year, said he would be open to looking at revenue-sharing issues for wind farm developments.

"I think the Legislature would have more of a tangential role, though," he said. "An awful lot of those details go the (Public Service Commission of Wisconsin).

"But there should be general parameters."

Plale cautioned against a one-size-fits-all approach, however.

"Each town is different," he said, "and each proposal is different. We need to be flexible."

PSC officials did not return calls to comment on possible changes.

But with budget money tight not only at town levels, but also at county and state levels, proposing financial shifts could meet with resistance.

Deb Wopat, chairwoman for the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, said she understood Hughes' argument, but declined to discuss hypothetical situations.

"We haven't talked about that a county level," she said. "If a proposal to shift revenues does go forward, then we'll discuss it."

But Don DeYoung, another county supervisor, said he agreed with Hughes.

"Everybody's looking for revenue here and there," he said. "But I think the towns should be getting more. And I'd be interested in having the state look into it."

And it just might make it to Columbia County's agenda. Hughes said he will be in discussions with County Board members soon.

"I want their thoughts on the process," he said. "Because right now, I'm not really enthused about it."


Source: http://www.dailyreporter.co...

AUG 28 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/16798-town-balks-at-sharing-wind-revenue-chairman-pushes-for-legal-shift
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