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Tax analysis from proposed wind farms

Before the wind farm meeting July 1, most of Rush County are curious about the financial side of the Flat Rock Wind Project.

Jason Semler of UMBAUGH provided a preliminary property tax abatement analysis to assist with questions.

The analysis concluded that in year 10 of the Flatrock Wind Project, an estimated of $405,178 of capital project funds would go to the Rush County School cooperation. The numbers provided assume no additional assessed value growth beyond the proposed wind farm investment, and there is no assumption of future changes in property tax rates for the cumulative funds.

According to the analysis, it is expected that the APEX Wind Energy project will have a tax liability to the county of approximately $9.173 million throughout the anticipated 25-year life of the project. Specifically by township the figures look like this:

Center Township – totaling $2,411,860

Washington Township – totaling $4,969,780

Union Township – totaling $1,325,060

Jackson Township – totaling $466,450

A summery of the estimated property taxes from the proposed utility property investment based on a total investment of $134,873,000 and a total of 61 wind turbines, the estimated net property taxes for the four townships (Center, Washington, Union and Jackson) would be $9,173,150.

Before it is all said and done, steps must be taken if wind farms come to the area.

“We have three contracts that have to be signed. The first is basically the economic development agreement; it is a way for the community to make money basically. Next is the road use agreement, which states if you destroy anything, you will put them back in as good or better condition. The third is a de-commissioning agreement; should the company go out of business, or they don’t want to continue the project, they have to de-commission the turbine and remove it,” said John McCane, ECDC director.

“It is important to know there are two different projects, one is NextEra and the other is APEX. APEX is mostly Rush – 2/3 Rush and 1/3 Henry. We are looking at around 90 turbines between the two companies. There is no compromise here. We are looking at around 300 million with these combined. Before turbines are even built, the county will have a contract for millions of dollars,” McCane said. “That first contract will also say that we will pick up all the way or up to a certain dollar amount of professional fees.”

The discussion of wind farms is not new to the area.

“This isn’t a secret; they have been literally securing property for three or four years. We modified our zoning ordinance to put wind farming in. It was a business we wanted in our community. No one protested. In July of 2013, we modified and changed the fees, no one complained,” McCane said. “We haven’t been hiding anything. It is a legitimate business in our community, business leaders have determined that.”

The Flat Rock Wind Project will be discussed at 7 p.m. July 1 at the Root Building.