On Wednesday a wind energy company with a wind farm located in Dewey County filed an official protest to challenge the county’s assessed value of their property.
A hearing including the Dewey County Excise Board, County Clerk, County Assessor, and District No. 1 County Commissioner Dillon Berry took arguments from Taloga Wind attorneys regarding their assertion that their property value was assessed too highly.
Taloga Wind is owned by parent company NRG Energy who also owns Buffalo Bear, LLC, a wind farm in Harper County.
Berry said in an interview with the Woodward News that the initial assessment for their property was valued at around $187 million which the company is required to pay taxes on to the county. Following an informal protest a second assessment was completed and the value was lowered by $10 million, making their final assessed value about $177 million.
Now the company is asking for the value to be lowered to around $60 million.
Commissioner Berry is skeptical about the change.
“I just have a hard time believing they were depreciating at four or five percent and now it’s suddenly 60 to 70 percent now that the state has stopped paying those taxes,” Berry said. “And the Excise Board agreed.”
According to laws put in place several years ago, alternative energy companies have several tax breaks offered to them through the state of Oklahoma. One of those is a five year moratorium on paying any ad valorem tax to counties where their property has been constructed. On average, the state compiles about $39 million per year of general funding to pay those property taxes for the wind companies so that counties can continue to function.
Now a trend has been appearing in other counties as well, which points to companies protesting their valuations when the tax burden reverts to them after their five years is up.
The Excise Board ruled against Taloga Wind and upheld the second assessment.
Berry is pleased with the board’s decision which could have had a negative impact on the economy for the small, rural area, especially schools.
Berry said it is disingenuous for Taloga Wind to protest their property assessment when they did not protest it when the Oklahoma tax payer was paying their tax bill.
“I am thrilled that the excise board chose to uphold what I think is the correct assessment of the wind farm,” Berry said. “This is something we will watch closely. It was a gimmick on their part, trying to pull a stunt to save some money. Our assessor had a fair and honest assessment.”
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