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Lawmaker challenges wind farm legislation

DENVER - A Grand Junction lawmaker is raising constitutionality questions about a bill that would change the way wind farms are taxed because it includes an exemption for existing ones.

That exemption, tacked onto the bill at the behest of Prowers County Assessor Andy Wyatt, states that the four existing wind farms in the state would continue to be taxed based on the equipment they use, rather than by how much energy they produce as called for in the bill.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Walsh, and Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, is designed to attract more wind farms to the state by reducing their initial tax burden. The Senate gave its initial approval on Wednesday and is expected to formally approve it today.

Sen. Ron Teck, R-Grand Junction and a Pueblo native, said it's unconstitutional to tax some companies one way and others using an entirely different method.

"When you have one kind of wind farm being valued under one (taxing) technique, and another wind farm that's being called by a different name valued under another technique you have non-uniformly of valuation," said Teck, who was Mesa County's assessor in 1993-98. "I expect it will be challenged in court by somebody."

Under current taxing laws, wind farms pay huge initial equipment taxes that diminish in a few years as the equipment depreciates.

Under HB1275, wind farms paying taxes based on production would pay slightly more in... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

That exemption, tacked onto the bill at the behest of Prowers County Assessor Andy Wyatt, states that the four existing wind farms in the state would continue to be taxed based on the equipment they use, rather than by how much energy they produce as called for in the bill.
 
The bill, introduced by Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Walsh, and Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, is designed to attract more wind farms to the state by reducing their initial tax burden. The Senate gave its initial approval on Wednesday and is expected to formally approve it today.
 
Sen. Ron Teck, R-Grand Junction and a Pueblo native, said it's unconstitutional to tax some companies one way and others using an entirely different method.
 
"When you have one kind of wind farm being valued under one (taxing) technique, and another wind farm that's being called by a different name valued under another technique you have non-uniformly of valuation," said Teck, who was Mesa County's assessor in 1993-98. "I expect it will be challenged in court by somebody."
 
Under current taxing laws, wind farms pay huge initial equipment taxes that diminish in a few years as the equipment depreciates.
 
Under HB1275, wind farms paying taxes based on production would pay slightly more in taxes over the average 20-year life of their equipment, but a lot less up-front, Brophy said.
 
Brophy, whose district includes Prowers and Kiowa counties, said he is hoping the bill will help boost economic development along the Eastern Plains by bringing in more wind farms, but was faced with the dilemma of holding Prowers County harmless.
 
"I want to jump-start all of this industry across the state while the going's good," Brophy said. "But unless they (Prowers County) attract another wind farm immediately, which is a possibility, then their county budget takes an immediate hit next year and the year after. Nothing is going very well right now in Prowers County . . . and they can't afford to take that hit."
 
Other wind farms are in Logan and Weld counties, but there are discussions from a Boulder-based company, Quixote Wind, about building several wind farms on the Eastern Plains, including Southeastern Colorado.


Source: http://www.chieftain.com/me...

MAR 30 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/1942-lawmaker-challenges-wind-farm-legislation
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