Our Opinion: Windfarm sale a positive for taxpayersPublished 11:05am Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Daily Herald editorial
News that Xcel Energy is buying the Pleasant Valley Wind Farm is good news for Mower County taxpayers.
Xcel Energy announced last week it plans to buy Pleasant Valley and two other planned wind farms as part of its single largest increase in wind generation in the Upper Midwest. The additional 600 megawatts of electricity, enough to serve 180,000 homes, is a 33 percent increase over the Minneapolis-based utility’s existing wind capacity of 1,800 megawatts in the region.
But Mower County residents are sure to be more interested in how the added turbines will affect the amount of money the county and townships receive through the Minnesota’s Wind Production Tax Credit.
This year, Mower County is receiving more than $1.2 million through the Wind Energy Production Tax, with townships receiving an additional $309,000. Those numbers are sure to increase with the new turbines.
The tax, based on the amount of energy produced each year, is paid by wind farms in lieu of traditional property taxes.
This tax money from wind farms equates to a property tax shift and eases the burden of property taxes. County officials have said property taxes would be higher without the wind turbines in Mower County. In 2010, County Coordinator Craig Oscarson said taxes in the county would have been 6.6 percent — or about $1 million — higher without money from wind farms. That is a substantial amount of money not falling on homeowners, business owners and farmers.
Wind energy has blossomed in Mower County, from about 15 wind towers in 2002 to more than 253 today. The Pleasant Valley project, to be located in Dexter, Sargeant and into Dodge County, could be the largest wind farm to date in Mower County, as estimates last year called for the project to add about 200 megawatts or wind energy.
News of the project area moving forward is sure to excite landowners in the project and leaders with Riverland Community College’s wind program. Riverland has become a leader in training wind farm technicians, and the added turbines are sure to bring at least a few more jobs to the county.
Especially after the county’s tax hikes in recent years, anything to offset further tax increases should be viewed as good news.