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Wind turbines a good deal for some PDF Print E-mail
Friday, May 02, 2014 8:49 PM

BY TOM ODENWELLER

Washington Township Trustee

 

Last August, I wrote a letter to the editor that expressed my feelings about the wind turbines that were being built in Van Wert County. My concerns regarding the wind turbines were, and still are, primarily financial.

To be truthful, I don’t like the way they look. I think there are other detriments too, like property value of homes located in or near the “wind farm,” road damage from hauling those 160,000-pound turbines to the locations and when they haul the many loads of stone and concrete to build the foundations. Iberdrola representatives say they’ll fix the roads and maybe that is the case but there are other issues, too. Some farmers have expressed concern about whether they’ll be able to bring in airplanes to apply chemicals to their farms if the neighbors have windmills, so it also becomes a “property rights” issue for some people.

It is my understanding the wind turbines that are currently constructed in Van Wert County do not pay real estate taxes like homeowners, other businesses and farmers. They pay “Payment In Lieu Of Taxes” or “PILOT.” These “PILOT” payments resulted in a significant abatement of taxes for the owners of the Turbines, and that the payments remain constant throughout the 20-year term and do not rise like property taxes. For the record, I don’t want to pay taxes either and I’d like to have my taxes “abated,” too. Wouldn’t everyone? I believe tax abatements are useful and proper if they help generate enough local jobs and investment. I simply do not believe that the significant abatements provided by “PILOT” are appropriate for this project.

Recently, there were articles in the Delphos Herald and Van Wert Times Bulletin showcasing the “PILOT” payments being presented by representatives of the wind mills to local political entities. As I recall, the article mentioned that the first payment was $2.4 million to Van Wert County entities, and $300,000 to Paulding County entities for a total of $2.7 million per year. My understanding is that these “PILOT” payments will continue for 20 years, for a total of $41.4 million. That is a lot of money.

One key element that I didn’t see in the news article was that the developer of the wind turbines, Iberdrola Renewables (an affiliate of Iberdrola, an oil company based in Spain), received about $173 million in subsidies for that project. That, too, is a lot of money. Another way to put it is that taxpayers invested $173 million in those wind turbines and taxpayers will get back about $41.4 million. What a deal! Is it any wonder our government is so deep in debt?

At a recent meeting held at Lincolnview High School, representatives of Iberdrola talked about how they made a significant investment in Van Wert County. They have made a significant investment. The truth, however, is much of the investment did not go to any entity in Ohio, let alone Van Wert County and possibly not even in the United States. According to Dan Litchfied, a representative of Iberdrola, the turbines were purchased from “Gamesa,” a foreign firm which has a facility in Pennsylvania, and the towers are also sourced outside Ohio, too. Subsequent to my questions, Litchfield wrote to me that they estimate the “domestic parts content of our project to be 60-70 percent.” That’s good but the subsidy is 100 percent domestic content.

I don’t want my children or grandchildren (or yours) to have to pay for projects like this that are not financially independent. If we want expensive “green” energy, then we should be willing to raise the price of electricity to make it financially feasible. Giving out subsidies and borrowing the money from China and others, and then passing the responsibility to repay those debts on to future generations shouldn’t be an option.

If this topic is important to you, call or write your elected representatives. Tell them how you feel. Make sure you know how people running for election or re-election stand and how they vote. Then exercise your responsibility and vote accordingly.

For full disclosure, I currently serve as a Washington Township Trustee in Van Wert County.

 

 

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