A northeast Missouri wind energy project that was hoped to have been completed and in operation months ago has fallen through as the lead company pulled out of the entire state citing a lack of a market for renewable energy.
The Shuteye Creek Wind Project that was supposed to have spanned Adair, Putnam and Sullivan counties and generate millions in tax revenue is out of steam as TradeWind Energy reports it is abandoning its Missouri land leases and putting a stop to plans across the state.
“We came into the Missouri market with great expectations and in the last 12 months it’s become quite evident that the market in Missouri is going to be non-existent for the foreseeable future largely due to state policy,” said project manager Rod Northway, with TradeWind.
The project had called for 100 wind turbines to be installed on 30,000 acres in northern Missouri. Adair County approved an Enhanced Enterprise Zone at TradeWind’s urging in 2010, offering the company a 60-percent tax abatement for 20 years on real property value in exchange for job creation.
“We invested heavily in the area, but had to make a decision of whether we keep investing in the state or go to other states where the desire for renewable energy and policies are more favorable,” Northway said.
TradeWind has spent millions in collecting wind data, leasing land and devising site plans for the project, which still could be used in the future if Missouri’s attitude toward renewable energy changes.
“We had the option to hold the land leases for three or four years, but at the end of the day, we don’t see Missouri changing within that time frame,” Northway said.
In a letter addressed to local media, TradeWind CEO Rob Freeman expressed a disappointment for the citizens of Adair, Sullivan and Putnam counties for the project’s demise.
He said there appeared to be a “lack of interest” in wind energy within Missouri and that TradeWind would be turning to surrounding states where “there is a clear commitment to development” of wind energy.
Novinger Superintendent Bill Lake, who leads the school district that was expecting a large tax revenue windfall from the project, said he was disappointed in the project’s result and apparent end.
“It was a lot of money,” he said. “It could have helped us cut back on local taxes or depend less on state support.”
He said legislative struggles to interpret Proposition C in 2008 led energy entities to have too much say on whether Missouri purchases its renewable energy in-state or pursues energy credits elsewhere.
Voters passed Prop C with a two-thirds majority, supporting requiring investor-owned electric utilities to “generate or purchase electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass and hydropower.”
From there, there was considerable debate about voters’ intent, whether they expressed solely an interest in offsetting the state’s dependence on fossil fuels or whether voters wanted that growth to be based in Missouri in the interest of economic development at possibly higher expense.
The issue came to a legislative gridlock after debate over the locally-sourced energy provisions, though Lake believes the voter intent was clear.
“People made a statement in 2008,” Lake said. “They wanted renewable energy bought in Missouri, not in Texas or California.”
The taxing entities, including the school districts, would have received their first boosted tax revenue payments this past January if the project had proceeded as hoped.
According to TradeWind, as proposed the budget would have generated enough power for 90,000 households.
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