Two bills making it easier for landowners to set up wind power generation systems on farms, ranches or state lands were signed recently by Idaho Gov. Butch Otter.
One became effective immediately. It is House Bill 189, which moves the taxes assessed on wind farm operations from the ad valorem property tax roles to the production tax list. Operators will be taxed on their output, rather than on the physical generation equipment.
This means more monies will go to the counties, and the amount should even increase a little from year to year, said Dar Olberding, lobbyist for the Idaho Grain Producers Association.
That’s why the counties supported this bill, he said.
Grain producers are among landowners across Idaho developing wind generation projects on their lands.
HB189 was passed by the House on Feb. 22 on a vote of 69-0. The Senate approved it March 13 on a vote of 30-0. Otter signed it on March 21. Because it is a tax bill, it was made retroactively effective to Jan. 1, 2007.
The second bill is HB130 as amended, which will allow the state Land Board and the Idaho Department of Lands to issue leases for state lands for longer periods, if they are leased for certain specific projects, such as wind generation.
State land leases are generally for 10 years. However, HB 130a will allow them to be leased for up to 25 years to federal agencies, state agencies, counties, cities, school districts or other political subdivisions when leased for public purposes.
The legislation also allows 49-year leases when they are eligible for the federal Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, or for wind or geothermal energy projects.
HB130 was originally passed by the House Feb. 15 on a vote of 65-0. It was amended in the Senate then approved on a vote of 35-0. The amendments forced a second vote in the House, which came on March 16. It again passed on a vote of 68-0. Otter signed it on March 21, and it will become effective July 1.
By Patricia R. McCoy
Capital Press Staff Writer
31 March 2007
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