Articles filed under Impact on Economy from Illinois
The Manager of Tri-County Electric Cooperative warned at this weekend’s annual meeting that pending Clean Energy legislation at the state or federal level could result in a 20 to 25-percent rate increase and an unreliable electrical grid.
For Springfield aldermen opposed to the 10-year-old Sierra Club deal that required the city to buy power from two wind farms, December 2018 can’t come fast enough. By then, both contracts will have expired, at which point City Water, Light and Power estimates it will have spent up to $150 million. So far, the utility has spent about $101 million. ...“There’s definitely a lesson for the future,” he said. “We have to be very, very careful when this contract comes back up. I don’t know how I could vote for it in most any form.”
A wind "farm" creates an easement in gross over neighboring, non-participating property that impairs value. Thus, it is tantamount to an "inverse condemnation", or regulatory taking of private property rights.....an uncompensated taking.
For most of the 2 1/2-hour meeting, Crowley was cross-examined by Rockford attorney Rick Porter, who is representing Hamilton Township and a number of private landowners fighting the wind farm. Crowley conceded he didn't know the proposed height or width of the turbines.
Ward 1 Ald. Frank Edwards said this week that aldermen were assured the utility would break even on wind power. He said the city should consider getting out of the agreements and pursue sue the Sierra Club for damages. "Somebody needs to be held accountable," he said. "I just don't think it's fair that the people of this community are forced to bear this kind of burden."
A well-rehearsed claim repeatedly trumpeted by wind project developers, and those wanting to join with them, promises substantial new property tax revenues as a windfall for our schools and counties. This argument becomes a tool used to disarm those neighbors who are opposed to these mammoth towers and the disruption to this agricultural community. As I have investigated these claims of promised new tax revenues, I was struck by what is not shared: Subsequent appeals of the taxes, attempts to claim the turbines are not real property and affects of accelerated depreciation on these turbines thereby rapidly reducing the taxable value.
KU and sister company Louisville Gas and Electric Co. plan to purchase wind power from the breezy prairie of northern Illinois to help meet what they expect will be federal requirements to increase their use of renewable energy. Last month, they asked the Kentucky Public Service Commission for permission to add a "renewable resource clause" to customer bills so they can recover the costs of the pricier wind power and transmission.
If wind farm developers looked only at the bottom line, Illinois likely would be one of the last places they'd try to erect hundreds of wind harnessing turbines. Property tax rates are among the highest in the region. The permitting process varies from county to county, and roughly half of the petitions put forth so far have resulted in litigation with opposition groups. The strength and steadiness of the breeze is good but better elsewhere. ..."There's a tremendous wind resource, a tremendous renewable energy standard. . . . It's kind of a perfect storm right now," Link said. "(Illinois) truly is going to be a leading state when it comes to wind energy capacity."
The Ottawa City Council and Invenergy, developer of the Grand Ridge wind farm, have split the difference concerning the fee the city will receive as administrator of the enterprise zone being expanded for Invenergy's estimated $5.2 million benefit. ...The benefit to Invenergy would be an estimated $7.5 million exemption to state sales tax on project construction materials. The new deal gives the city an estimated minimum of $375,000 more than proposed in an agreement placed on file last Wednesday. Originally, Ottawa stood to benefit from a fee equivalent of up to 20 percent of the sales tax savings. But that was with the understanding the Ottawa Fire Department was to be the "first responder" to calls at wind farm construction sites -- which would mean ones in other fire agency jurisdictions. Under the revised agreement, Ottawa's share was to drop to 10 percent with the other 10 percent to be divided up among fire protection agencies in the expanded enterprise zone area.
EL PASO -- Opponents and supporters of a proposed 42-tower El Paso wind farm presented closing arguments to the Woodford County Zoning Board of Appeals Plans Wednesday evening. If approved, the towers would be built on the west side of El Paso. The board votes at 6 p.m. Aug. 15 at El Paso's Grace Fellowship Church.
"People need to be aware of the big tax advantages we will be paying," said Davies. "We are guaranteeing a $600,000-per-year payment in lieu of taxes, with $450,000 going to the school." The school district would see a net increase of $200,000 after adjustments in state aid related to the growth in the district's tax base, Davies said.
GALESBURG - Local landowners and officials find that taxes are the taxing issue for a future Knox County wind farm. Taxes are a concern in two ways: The challenge for local officials is how to value wind turbines for tax purposes. How the tax bill is paid is a concern for landowners, who don't want to pay the taxes for the turbines, which cost $1.6 million each, said Michael Arndt, development manager for Invenergy. The Chicago-based company plans to build 266 turbines in Knox County.
Compromise on a proposed wind farm - including a hefty tax incentive offered by the developer - was the topic Wednesday night of a special work session of the El Paso City Council. At issue was the council's opposition to a proposed 42-tower wind farm in Woodford County's Palestine and El Paso townships. Wanda Davies, a spokeswoman for Minnesota-based Navitas Energy, met with the council to offer alternatives and address the board's concerns. "We're willing to come to an understanding," said Davis. "We don't want this to be all or nothing, but we are willing to forge ahead if it comes to that." Davis said Navitas is committed to the project and is proposing a couple of concessions to win the council's support.
As the debate over "Wind Farms" continues, and is now into court, I cannot help but wonder why it has progressed this far dividing neighbors, friends and families. I also reflect on how the whole ordeal, which has put much undue stress on all parties involved, could have been avoided had our County Board followed normal protocol regarding the granting of Special Use Permits. Last fall, when the hearing for Special Use Application was in front of the County Zoning Board of Appeals, there were several long nights of testimony from both sides. After all testimony was heard, the Zoning Board of Appeals voted 3-1 to deny the application. At that point, in normal county procedure, the issue is over and the applicants must wait a year to apply again. However, in this case, our County Board leadership decided to be above the norm and overturn the Zoning Board of Appeal's recommendation forcing themselves and the county into imminent litigation.
Citing economic and property value concerns, the El Paso City Council unanimously approved a resolution Monday evening opposing construction of a wind farm within 1.5 miles of the city. The resolution will be filed today with the Woodford County Zoning Board. "We spent a whole year developing a comprehensive plan," said Mayor Herb Arbuckle. "Now, they have put 12 of the 42 wind towers within the 1.5 mile comprehensive zone, which we (the city council) believe will have a detrimental impact on the city's economy."
After an executive session Monday night, the Stephenson County Planning and Development Committee approved motions recommending that the county not require a homeowner protection plan for the local wind farms. In a unanimous vote, the committee endorsed removing the stipulations in the wind farm special-use permits that require the county to create a protection plan. The full County Board will likely vote on this issue at its next meeting at 6:30 p.m. May 9.
Terry Groves, director of planning and zoning for the county, said he wouldn't be surprised if the plan gets laid over for another 30 days. But he's unsure what will happen Monday. The plan is designed to set up terms by which the wind-farm companies would compensate adjacent homeowners who experience a loss in property value due to the wind towers. The plan has been the subject of considerable debate, but a final version of the document has not yet been approved. The lawsuits, filed in late February, have delayed the county's approval of the protection plan. The suits seek to invalidate the special-use permits that would allow two companies to build wind farms in Stephenson County.
The uptrend in prices will continue in 2007, according to 83% of survey respondents. "Their responses tell us that the pace will be at a 5% rate or higher in the upcoming 12 months," Brorsen notes. "This will be the 21st year of expanding farm values in Illinois. There is a lot of cash flowing into Illinois farm real estate." The prospects for ethanol and bio-diesel production in the Midwest is the catalyst that has sparked commodity markets, says Mac Boyd, Farmers National Company, Arcola. "Ethanol and bio-diesel plants are being constructed and planned in several areas of the state and premiums are being paid for land close to proposed or existing plants. Wind turbines and coal gasification developments are also happening in several parts of Illinois. This overall energy focus bodes well for the longer term prospects of renewable resources being used for fuel."
So, those of us who purchased our property from a farmer, at his price, and who were warned by the county zoning board to never complain about the smell, or the dust, or the noise, or the manure that are inherent in “farm” operations, have every right to object to these enormous machines that will loom over their homes forever. The board never forbade us to complain about non-farm business conducted on farm land.
We cannot avoid the fact that some people will suffer from the wind farm projects, but we can ensure that the wind farm companies adequately compensate the damaged individuals for their losses. No reason exists that a farmer who happens to own the specific property on which the company will place its turbines will earn hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue from the project, while a simple family with a small home adjacent to the wind farm will lose tens of thousands of dollars of property value from the same project. County officials can and should insist that corporations obtaining permits for wind farms agree to a legal process whereby individuals whose property values are damaged will be compensated for this loss. Many Americans, including the majority of conservative Central Illinoisans, reacted with anger when the Supreme Court ruled that a city could take an individual’s home and give the land to a private developer. But at least in that case, the homeowners were receiving compensation for the taking. The wind farm situation, where no compensation for damaged homeowners is offered, presents a far worse scenario. We need not, and must not, tolerate it.