The tax revenue question regarding the proposed wind farm in northeast Missouri has been resolved, leaving one key question remaining – whether the company that plans to construct it can apply for a building permit in Schuyler County.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday afternoon signed House Bill 220, which was sponsored by Rep. Allen Andrews (R-1). It was handled in the Senate by Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin (R-18) and Sen. Ed Emery (R-31).
Tax revenues from publicly owned utilities are distributed across the utility’s entire service area. HB 220 carves out an exception for wind farms to have assessed taxes go only to the counties in which facilities like turbines actually exist.
The High Prairie Wind Farm is a proposed 175-turbine facility split over Schuyler and Adair counties. When complete and in service, it will generate enough electricity to power 120,000 homes.
The tax revenue matter became relevant to the High Prairie Wind Farm when Terra-Gen, the private company building the wind farm, announced it would sell the project to public utility Ameren Missouri upon completion of construction. The wind farm has been projected to generate $32 million in property, sales and income taxes over 25 years, with about half of that money going to school districts. Had the bill not been passed and signed, that money would have instead been distributed throughout Ameren Missouri’s entire service area.
Kirksville-Regional Economic Development, Inc. has led lobbying efforts toward passage of the bill.
“We’re very happy that it’s going to be signed and official,” K-REDI Executive Director Carolyn Chrisman said. “We didn’t have any concerns that the governor wouldn’t sign it, but it’s nice to see it actually be completed.”
The bill has no impact on payments to local landowners, who would receive a combined $3.2 million annually in lease payments for hosting turbines on their properties.
Meanwhile, Terra-Gen officials are focused on having amendments passed to Schuyler County’s zoning laws. Language added in 1990 does not allow building permits to construct wind farms.
Glenn Smith, project manager, told the K-REDI board at its Tuesday meeting that opponents to the project found the zoning language, which county officials were not aware existed.
Schuyler’s zoning commission met Tuesday night to discuss proposed amendments that would allow the permit process to proceed. The group scheduled another meeting for July 23.
The zoning commission will make a recommendation to the Schuyler County Commission, which has the final authority to pass or reject the amendments.
Smith said if the language is not amended, Terra-Gen can’t apply for a permit and cannot build the project in Schuyler County. In that scenario, he said the company would look at its legal and project options.
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