Offaly County Council’s Director of Finances, Thomas Mawe, has said an ongoing national rates review for wind farm companies could have “a significant financial impact” on Offaly.
A review by the Valuation Office has been ongoing for a number of years following an appeal by the wind energy industry. It is possible for the office to decide to reduce rates which would adversely affect Offaly County Council’s rates income.
Earlier this year, the Irish Wind Farmers Association said the generation of electricity from wind is being “crippled” by local authority rates across the country.
The wind industry body claims it is being overcharged by as much as €8m a year nationally, a figure that could rise to €30 million in 2030, it is claimed.
Chairman Grattan Healy said: “Following the 2001 Valuation Act, the Valuation Office set about a revaluation of all rateable properties in Ireland. Up to that time, wind farms were paying roughly the same rates per megawatt of generating capacity as other electricity generating stations, and were fully accepting of same and happy to contribute to the local authority in support of their communities.
“However, the revaluation has in some instances tripled or even quadrupled rates for wind farms, while not doing anything similar for other generators. Such large increases amount to unfair government policy.”
Thomas Mawe, Offaly County Council’s Director of Finances, said they [the council] are “not in control of any aspect of the review.” He explained that rates for wind farms are worked out by a charge placed on the earnings of individual wind turbines and that the appellants are classed as “global ratepayers.”
Large companies are involved in a number of wind farms in Offaly with more in the pipeline at various stages in the planning process. Mr Mawe insists the outcome of the national review will have “no effect on future planning decisions” for wind projects.
“At some point, we could just receive a revised certificate and we’d have to live with it so, at the minute, it’s very uncertain,” Thomas explained. He said he informed councillors of the potential financial risk posed by the review in this week’s budget meeting simply to make them aware.
“We should know more after December as the process must be coming to an end soon,” he added.
The uncertainty comes at a time when Offaly is already facing a substantial rates loss on foot of the closure of West Offaly Power Station in Shannonbridge in December 2020. That closure could cause a loss of €3 million to Offaly County Council’s future budget sheets.