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What else do they generate?

Wind farms generate a lot of electricity, but not a large number of permanent jobs once the construction phase is over. And although the projects are desirable because they use an abundant renewable natural resource, the only significant revenue the units are generating in Wyoming at this point is through property taxes in the counties where they are located. Their property tax bills so far are modest.

CHEYENNE -- Wind farms generate a lot of electricity, but not a large number of permanent jobs once the construction phase is over.

And although the projects are desirable because they use an abundant renewable natural resource, the only significant revenue the units are generating in Wyoming at this point is through property taxes in the counties where they are located.

Their property tax bills so far are modest.

The 11 wind companies that do nothing but produce power and sell it will pay an estimated total of about $3.5 million in property taxes for 2009 to four counties, according to the Wyoming Department of Revenue.

Their assessed valuation totaled $49 million. In comparison, the assessed valuation of all minerals for 2009 is $20 billion. Moreover, the $20 billion from minerals is the bulk of the state's total assessed valuation of $29 billion.

Wind companies do not pay any sales or use tax on their equipment purchases. The Legislature last winter, however, moved up the "sunset" date on the tax exemption to Jan. 1, 2010.

By that date, the projects must have lined up their agreements with landowners and the required permits and have purchased all their... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

CHEYENNE -- Wind farms generate a lot of electricity, but not a large number of permanent jobs once the construction phase is over.

And although the projects are desirable because they use an abundant renewable natural resource, the only significant revenue the units are generating in Wyoming at this point is through property taxes in the counties where they are located.

Their property tax bills so far are modest.

The 11 wind companies that do nothing but produce power and sell it will pay an estimated total of about $3.5 million in property taxes for 2009 to four counties, according to the Wyoming Department of Revenue.

Their assessed valuation totaled $49 million. In comparison, the assessed valuation of all minerals for 2009 is $20 billion. Moreover, the $20 billion from minerals is the bulk of the state's total assessed valuation of $29 billion.

Wind companies do not pay any sales or use tax on their equipment purchases. The Legislature last winter, however, moved up the "sunset" date on the tax exemption to Jan. 1, 2010.

By that date, the projects must have lined up their agreements with landowners and the required permits and have purchased all their equipment. All the wind generation projects must be finished by Dec. 31, 2011, when the tax break expires unless extended by the Legislature.

The previous deadline was 2013.

The sales and use tax exemption applies to equipment used to generate electricity from renewable resources.

"Hopefully, the state will be able to collect sales tax earlier by the Legislature moving the close of that exemption closer in time," said Aaron Clark, Gov. Dave Freudenthal's energy adviser.�¿�

As for property taxes from wind farms, Clark said�¿�a general rule of thumb is based on a 100-megawatt operation.

"A small wind farm of 100 megawatts would pay a county $2 million in property taxes," Clark said.

A 100-megawatt operation would include 50 to 70 turbines.

The Wyoming Industrial Siting Division of the Department of Environmental Quality deals with projects costing $170 million or more. The companies must report the number of permanent employees after the construction phase.

The typical staffing plan for big wind farms is 12 to 17 employees, said Tom Schroeder of the industrial siting program.

Schroeder said the siting council so far has issued permits for six separate wind farms.

Property tax revenue

The 11 wind farm companies slated to pay an estimated $3.5 million in property taxes for 2009 operate wind power plants in Carbon, Converse, Laramie and Uinta counties. The list does not include PacifiCorp's Converse County wind operations, which are bundled into an aggregate figure with the utility's other properties.

Converse County Assessor Dixie J. Huxtable said it is difficult to tell how much of the $32 million increase in PacifiCorp's assessed value for 2009 can be attributed to its wind turbines at Glenrock.

The property tax bill is clear for Duke Energy's Three Buttes wind farm. As of Jan. 2, the assessed value is $1.48 million, Huxtable said.

"Duke Energy will go up," Huxtable said. "They're just barely started."

The Three Buttes wind farm will pay about $100,000 in taxes to Converse County for 2009.

Uinta County will collect about $2.6 million in property taxes from wind power operations by Florida Light and Power Energy Co. and Mountain Wind Power. In Uinta County, the oldest wind operation includes 80 turbines owned by Florida Light and Power, said County Assessor Lori Perkins.

The Florida property has been depreciated and will pay about $878,000 in property taxes for 2009.

Uinta County's Mountain Wind Power is a new venture with an assessed value of $28 million and property taxes this year of $1.7 million.

Laramie County is expected to collect about $443,000 in property taxes from Silver Sage Wind Power and Happy Jack Wind Power for 2009, according to the Wyoming Department of Revenue.

Carbon County is expected to collect about $392,000 from five wind power operations -- Rock River I, Eugene Water and Power and Foote Creek 2, 3 and 4.

Lack of transmission

Moving up the sunset date for the sales and use tax break for wind energy may not make much of a difference, because companies are moving back their timing a bit for these projects.

The reason is lack of electrical transmission capacity.

"There's no way to get power out of the state now," Clark said. "That's the problem plaguing Wyoming. We have great wind resources, but there's no way to get any of it out of the state because all our transmission is at capacity.

"We have kind of a chicken-and-egg thing going on with wind and transmission. Until transmission is built, the wind companies aren't going to build a big wind farm if there's no way to sell the power. So we're going through the rather onerous process of permitting new transmission lines in the state," he added.

It is a long process, and not many landowners are happy to see transmission lines coming, he said.

"The first opportunity to have new transmission in the state is, optimistically, 2013. That would be the line that goes from Wheatland to Pawnee, Colo.," Clark said.

One pro-wind power group that won't oppose transmission lines over its property is the Chugwater Wind Energy Association. The chairwoman, Teresa Miller, said this is one of 12 or 13 landowners associations created to negotiate with wind power developers.

Negotiating as a group, rather than individually, saved on legal fees and speeded up the process, she said. A group of landowners in the southeast corner of Wyoming signed an agreement last December with British Petroleum Alternate Energy, Miller said.

"Overhead transmission lines are not pretty, but we're trying to help the economy of Wyoming as a whole," Miller said.


Source: http://www.trib.com/article...

JUL 29 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/21470-what-else-do-they-generate
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