Over the past nine years, 10 wind turbines have been erected in Adair and Cass counties, providing the local communities with power and an added tax base.
Project organizers are now looking at Ringgold and Clarke counties as possible locations to expand that project before tax credits run out at the end of 2017.
The 10 turbines currently up and running in Adair and Cass counties are limited liability companies owned by more than 200 individuals who have invested more than $10 million in the different projects.
Informational meetings are being held this week in Osceola and Mount Ayr for people interested in investing in projects in those areas.
An informational meeting will be 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Southwest Iowa Rural Electric Co-op meeting room in Mount Ayr and 7 p.m. Thursday at The Meeting Place, 1003 N. Main St., in Osceola.
“We’re going to see if we can put up around eight or 10 new turbines between now and the end of next year,” said Randy Caviness, project manager. “To do that, we’re going to have meetings around the communities and let people invest if they want; let people take advantage of the things the billionaires have been taking advantage of for years.”
In addition to providing more than 62 million kilowatt-hours of power last year – enough power for 6,000 households – the 10 current turbines also earned member owners more than $1 million in tax credits last year.
“From a utility perspective, it reduces the overall carbon footprint,” said Charlie Dunn, general manager of Farmers Electric Co-op in Greenfield. “One thing in the utility industry we like is having a mix of sources. We like to have a generation mix that includes the more standard resources such as nuclear, coal and gas plants, but renewable resources like solar and wind are certainly important, as well.”
The wind turbines hook into the local company’s rural electric substations to provide power to the communities.
“It’s been a good project. It’s a pretty good return,” Caviness said. “Once the tax credits are over, the turbines should be paid off. Depending on what power rates do in the future will determine what the rate of return is for the future.”
Caviness said a new project would have more than $2.5 million worth of tax credits over the 10-year period. The most recent turbines that have been built have provided about a 14 percent, tax-free return.
“It’s great for the community because it brings a tax base to the community that adds directly to their tax revenue over time,” Caviness said. “Tax credits stay in the community.”
Caviness and other project organizers are pushing to get projects started quickly, however.
Federal tax credits for projects close at the end of 2016. Projects must be started by the end of the year in order to receive the federal tax credit, which is 2.3 cents per kilowatt.
State tax credits for small producers pay about 1.5 cents per kilowatt. The state tax credits close at the end of 2017.
“So in order to capitalize on all the credits, you have to have a project started this year to get the federal credit lined up and you have to have it running by the end of next year to get the state credit,” Caviness said. “That makes a sense of urgency on anything that’s going to be done.”
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