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House OKs wind farm tax bill

DENVER - The House passed and sent to the Senate a bill that attempts to lure more wind farms to northeastern Colorado. The vote was 54-9 earlier this week.

House Bill 1275 changes the method of taxing the gigantic wind turbines from a business personal property tax, which is reduced over time through depreciation, to a production tax similar to what is charged in the oil and gas fields.

"This is an economic development bill," said Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Walsh.

The development of wind energy is a fast-growing industry in Colorado because of a 2004 voter-approved mandate that 10 percent of all electricity generated by the year 2015 come from renewable-energy sources.

Brophy is the Senate sponsor of House Bill 1275. He will have to deal with questions about the measure's constitutionality that were raised after McKinley amended his bill to exempt existing wind farms from its provisions.

Without grandfathering, the state would have had to "backfill" more than $500,000 in reduced property tax revenue that the counties use to pay for schools.

Patrick Boyle, a lobbyist for the Colorado Assessors' Association, warned that changing the method of taxation only for facilities that begin producing wind power after Jan. 1, 2006, could be unconstitutional.

"Over and over, the constitution talks about uniformity of treatment in taxation," Boyle said. "That means... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

House Bill 1275 changes the method of taxing the gigantic wind turbines from a business personal property tax, which is reduced over time through depreciation, to a production tax similar to what is charged in the oil and gas fields.
 
"This is an economic development bill," said Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Walsh.
 
The development of wind energy is a fast-growing industry in Colorado because of a 2004 voter-approved mandate that 10 percent of all electricity generated by the year 2015 come from renewable-energy sources.
 
Brophy is the Senate sponsor of House Bill 1275. He will have to deal with questions about the measure's constitutionality that were raised after McKinley amended his bill to exempt existing wind farms from its provisions.
 
Without grandfathering, the state would have had to "backfill" more than $500,000 in reduced property tax revenue that the counties use to pay for schools.
 
Patrick Boyle, a lobbyist for the Colorado Assessors' Association, warned that changing the method of taxation only for facilities that begin producing wind power after Jan. 1, 2006, could be unconstitutional.
 
"Over and over, the constitution talks about uniformity of treatment in taxation," Boyle said. "That means no two people who are in business competing against one another can be taxed differently. That explicitly is what's happening in this case."
 
A member of the House Finance Committee, Rep. Jim Kerr, who is a Republican, confirmed he requested a legal opinion from the Legislative Legal Services.
 
"I supported the bill but I just think we ought to know if it will stand up to a challenge," Kerr said.
 
Boyle admitted the bill could become law and take effect if nobody challenges it.
 
"We can do anything we want around here," Boyle said. "My job is to warn the General Assembly that you are about to pass something that on its face looks unconstitutional. They are still free to do so."


Source: http://www.journal-advocate...

MAR 17 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/1756-house-oks-wind-farm-tax-bill
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