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Tax row dents Wyoming's confidence in wind developers

"They've said it to the legislative committees. They've said it to the Industrial Siting Council. And then suddenly when the first time comes to pay, here come the blue suits, the lawyers, and say, ‘Oops; never mind. All of that stuff we have been saying, we didn't mean it.'"

A blazing row in Wyoming over property taxes requested from four Duke Energy wind farms could now make it harder to develop other wind projects in the state.

When it was seeking permits for the four wind farms in Converse and Laramie Counties, North Carolina-based Duke Energy had estimated the facilities would raise a combined $40 million in taxes.

But now the wind farms are built it is appealing attempts by local officials to collect the money.

Now, Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal has warned state and local officials, along with the public at large, against "whole-heartedly adopting the promises made by companies" in the wind permitting process.

Officials are demanding $23.4 million for the Campbell Hill wind farm in Converse County, $3.4 million for Top of the World wind farm in Converse County, $8.9 million for Silver Sage wind farm in Laramie County and $6 million for Happy Jack wind farm in Laramie County.

But though the figures are based on Duke Energy's own estimates, the company is unhappy with the way the taxes have been assessed and has filed an appeal with the State Board of Equalization.

Commenting on the move, Governor Freudenthal... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A blazing row in Wyoming over property taxes requested from four Duke Energy wind farms could now make it harder to develop other wind projects in the state.

When it was seeking permits for the four wind farms in Converse and Laramie Counties, North Carolina-based Duke Energy had estimated the facilities would raise a combined $40 million in taxes.

But now the wind farms are built it is appealing attempts by local officials to collect the money.

Now, Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal has warned state and local officials, along with the public at large, against "whole-heartedly adopting the promises made by companies" in the wind permitting process.

Officials are demanding $23.4 million for the Campbell Hill wind farm in Converse County, $3.4 million for Top of the World wind farm in Converse County, $8.9 million for Silver Sage wind farm in Laramie County and $6 million for Happy Jack wind farm in Laramie County.

But though the figures are based on Duke Energy's own estimates, the company is unhappy with the way the taxes have been assessed and has filed an appeal with the State Board of Equalization.

Commenting on the move, Governor Freudenthal said: "I believe that what it signals to us is we need to be really careful when the lobbyists and everybody make a bunch of representations that it may or may not turn out to be true.

So, I think we need to be careful to guard the revenues that are supposed to go to the local governments, and -what is that old Ronald Regan thing about trust but verify - we may need to verify several times with these people."

Lobbying

Gov. Freudenthal said last week he found it "appalling" that the company had been lobbying against changes in the state wind taxation system based on its promise to pay existing taxes, which it is now refusing to pay.

The Wyoming Governor said: "They've been critical of my suggestions with regard to both the industrial siting, with regard to the production tax. And, part of it has been: ‘Well, look, we're going to pay all these property taxes.' And they've had these lobbyists running around saying that.

"They've said it to the legislative committees. They've said it to the Industrial Siting Council. And then suddenly when the first time comes to pay, here come the blue suits, the lawyers, and say, ‘Oops; never mind. All of that stuff we have been saying, we didn't mean it.'"

Gov Freudenthal said it was no excuse for Duke Energy to say its tax division is separate from its permitting division in dealing with local officials.

The Legislature's Joint Revenue Interim Committee is currently studying a new tax structure for the wind energy industry in Wyoming.

Duke Energy spokesman Greg Efthimiou told Associate Press that his company did intend to pay its "fair share of property tax" on teh wind projects.

Mr Efthimiou said: "The reason that we are appealing the property tax assessment is due to the methodology for calculating that tax assessment."


Source: http://www.brighterenergy.o...

SEP 13 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/28061-tax-row-dents-wyoming-s-confidence-in-wind-developers
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