GRAND MEADOW, MN – Near Grand Meadow, a new crop of wind turbines is popping up.
According to a state law, they’re supposed to bring in some extra funds to the school district.
But as the Newscenter’s Jennifer Hoff reports, that money is being blown away.
Over 60 turbines dot the farm fields around Grand Meadow.
They’re over 200 feet tall, with a diameter the length of a football field.
Joe Brown, Grand Meadow Superintendent says, “This is a great investment not only for this country, not only for the state of Minnesota, but also for our school.”
For Grand Meadow School, more wind means more money.
It started in 2002 – a state law to lure wind farms to Minnesota meant these farms are free of property taxes.
Instead, this energy creates money through a production tax.
Brown says, “That money goes to the state and then that money is distributed back out to the communities – 80 percent of that revenue goes to the county, 14 percent goes to the city or township that has the windmills, and school district was supposed to get six percent.”
That’s about $50,000 – or as Brown says, a new science teacher.
And with more than 100 turbines to be built this month, more money was expected.
But what the wind blew in, the state is now taking away.
Brown says, “And when we found out this money was taken away after it was promised to us five years ago, we were very upset.”
But according to the Education Commissioner Alice Seagren, “It’s not fair for wind-blessed districts to profit when wind-challenged districts don’t.”
Like the First Congressional District – where Grand Meadow is – it’s the fifth windiest district in the United States.
Representative Randy Demmer is standing up for the windy city – he’s introduced a bill to return wind payments to the school.
Demmer, (R) Hayfield says, “The bottom line is – the wind energy production tax that comes from these turbines, I believe, should be be going to the counties, cities, and schools where its located and my legislation will put it back the way it is.”
So the fight Demmer talks about lies ahead.
The law taking cash away from wind-blessed schools doesn’t take effect for two more years.
Since the new law won’t happen for another couple years, the school will get to keep the wind payments they will receive next year.
That total? About $30,000.
By Jennifer Hoff
28 November 2007
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