BAD AXE – Questioning tax revenues from wind energy in Huron County has been a hot topic among local residents, who have complained of the lack of definitive answers to where the revenue is going and who it benefits.
Some have gone so far as calling wind money “unclean.” How so?
Wind energy opponents say developers could not build without tax subsides, and they say turbines hurt the communities where they are sited.
DTE has generated more than $27 million in tax revenue for Huron County from 2014 to 2016, according to taxation documents provided by the Huron County Board of Commissioners.
Huron County Commissioner Ron Wruble said he fears some of the tax revenue local entities have received could have to be repaid if the Midwest Rural Energy Council (MREC) loses an ongoing court battle with the Michigan Tax Commission over how turbines are valued.
“I don’t know of any entity that has received tax money from turbines that isn’t setting some aside in case that happens,” Wruble said.
Trevor F. Lauer, DTE Energy President, addressed the taxation issue and said DTE has not broken any promises to the community about tax money and who is held responsible.
“To our knowledge, no schools or hospitals were ever required to pay any money back as a result of wind turbine property taxes paid by DTE and the changes made by the State Tax Commission,” Lauer said. “As a state regulated utility, DTE Electric must pay property taxes according to the requirements of the State Tax Commission.”
Lauer also added that DTE is continuing to work with communities to address this topic.
According to the Huron County tax reports from 2014 to 2016, taxes on turbines have generated $356,130 for transit services, $792,097 for medical care, $6,096,088 for county and township roads, $557,920 for emergency services, $725,449 for local libraries, $393,111 for senior and veterans services and $11,224,311 for local schools in the community.
Joe Murphy, Huron Intermediate School District Superintendent, spoke on the funds that have been collected for the county.
“In terms of revenue for the local schools, the only way that you are directly affected is through the sinking funds,” Murphy said during the Monday, April 24 Bad Axe Public Schools Board of Education Regular Meeting. “Regardless of our feelings about wind turbines, from a financial perspective they have been a benefit for the ISD to provide good services to our locals and to provide funding to our homes.”
The question is still left though as to how community members are affected.
Some businesses do indeed make money in connection to Huron County wind energy generation as well as some townships and schools that also reap benefits, as stated in the figures from the Huron County tax reports. Landowners who hold a lease also collect payments.
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