Montgomery County Commissioners and Montgomery County Council met jointly Monday to hear the latest update on the Sugar Creek Wind Project, which is being planned in Madison and Sugar Creek townships in northeast Montgomery County.
Erin Wiedower of Akuo Energy USA and the project’s manager, gave a presentation explaining the progress of the project. She said her company will be asking for tax abatements at the next county council meeting.
“We have been developing this project for several years,” Wiedower said. “We have been talking with landowners and the county and we are now at the point we need to ask for tax abatements from the county council.”
Commission president Phil Bane asked the council to be present at the meeting so they could hear the information at the same time as the commissioners.
Bane said commissioners will support the project and the tax abatement requests.
The county has hired financial consultant Todd Samuelson of H.J. Umbaugh & Associates to study the impact the wind energy project will have on Montgomery County. Samuelson presented a preliminary tax abatement
“This is a large project,” Samuelson said. “There are a lot of things that will impact the county’s financial condition.”
Samuelson explained the project will reduce property taxes in Madison and Sugar Creek townships. Samuelson also explained that part of the agreement with Akua includes the company paying the county an annual Economic Development Payment. An estimated $3.1 million will be paid to the county over the 10-year tax abatement period. Due to the size of the project in terms of investment and in the number of acres to be developed, the county will be paid monies to go back into county development activities.
“The county wanted an economic development payment to be used for county infrastructure,” Samuelson said. “The money will be used to enhance the county’s ability to attract other investors. There will be an up front payment and an annual payment for 10 years thereafter.”
Because the energy wind project is considered a utility in Indiana, two entities with accumulated building funds will receive financial benefits. The county Cumulative Capital Development Fund is projected to receive $75,711 in 10 years and North Montgomery School Corporation is projected to receive $648,886 into the corporation’s Capital Projects Fund all as a result of increased assessed valuations and tax payments from Akuo Energy.
Samuelson said the estimated property tax payments to Madison Township and Sugar Creek townships during the 10-year abatement period will total $2,736,340 and $683,550, respectively.
County Attorney Dan Taylor reported on his activities in retrospect to the wind energy project which included a Wind Farm Ordinance. Taylor said the ordinance is being adhered to by Akuo Energy. The ordinance is designed to protect county drains and roads. Also, the ordinance sets the guidelines in case the wind farms cease to operate. The economic development payment also is in the ordinance.
Wiedower said the energy wind project will include 404 jobs during the construction phase. Also, there will be 27 permanent jobs with an annual salary of $1.3 million when the wind farm is in operation.
Ivy Tech has joined the project, Wiedower said. Akua Energy approached the school to help train prospective employees. The wind energy company will provide $10,000 annually for scholarships and $10,000 annual endowment to the energy technology program.
“We want to train local people to be the wind techs once the project is operating,” Wiedower said.
Wiedower will present the request for tax abatement to the county council on Sept. 3.