More wind turbines in H.C.
Wed, 04/05/2017 - 12:59pm admin
—Saratoga Township to get 33 by end of 2018
By Marcie Klomp News Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Howard County - The landscape in the Saratoga Township area will be getting taller by the end of 2018, around 500 feet taller!
That is the approximate height of a two-megawatt wind turbine that is expected to be installed by Madison Gas and Electric (MGE). Multiply that by 33, the number of turbines anticipated to be erected, for a total of an extra 66 MW of electricity to be produced in Howard County by wind energy. (The capacity of the turbines may be pushed to 2.5 MW, which could bring the number down to between 27-33.)
MGE announced at the end of February its intentions of adding to the existing 112 turbines in Howard County for a total of 145.
Developing the wind farm project is RPM Access, with Kirk Kraft of the Clear Lake office remarking the sub-station one-half mile south of Highway 9 on Jade Ave. was updated recently, leaving 66 MW available on the grid.
Kraft explained after room on the grid is found, his company starts looking at land owners and the county to gage their interest in the project. “I’m happy to say everyone was pretty friendly to us. We have signed up some individual land owners.”
The land owners are asked how many turbines they would be interested in, and RPM Access designs and lays out the farm. They do environmental studies, making sure there are no eagles nesting nearby or archeological sites. Permits from the county and state are then needed.
Kraft noted, “Sixty-six MW is not a big site, but the days of finding 200, 300 or 400 MW are gone.”
He added currently it is mostly paperwork to take care of. “The next step will be to go to the proposed turbine sites. This summer test borings will be done. Summer of 2018 will be construction, and [they should go online] the end of 2018. Although I have found they usually get finished before that schedule.”
According to MGE, the $107 million wind farm will deliver renewable energy to approximately 47,000 average homes. Saratoga will be the third and largest wind farm built by MGE. It built one at Rosiere, Wis. with 17 turbines in 1999 and the other at Kensett, Iowa in 2007, which has 18 units.
Howard County is fortunate to have so many turbines for tax reasons. Each unit is considered taxable property, which adds to the county’s coffers.
Just to help a person understand the impact wind farms have had and are having in Howard County, a person just needs to look at the numbers.
Since 2002 each wind turbine and the installation cost has been taxed. The first assessment year is at zero person; second year is taxed at five percent, with five percent added each year up to six years. The seventh and all subsequent years are taxed at 30 percent of the net acquisition cost.
For Fiscal Year 2016-17, the total amount of property taxes collected for the 112 wind turbines was $2,069,098. That is split with local school districts, Northeast Iowa Community College, Regional Health Services of Howard County, townships and the county.
Howard County funds received for FY2016-17 are $1,631,171.
Howard County Supervisor Jan McGovern noted, “Our ability to utilize Tax Increment Financing (TIF) on the wind farms has been a great benefit to Howard County. We have used those tax dollars for our infrastructure, including the purchase of road graders, upgrading roads and the repair or replacement of numerous bridges.”
According to Howard County Engineer Nick Rissman, having TIFs available for infrastructure has been a great asset for the county. There have been two TIFs, which are basically borrowing against future property taxes generated by the wind farms.
The first TIF was for $3.7 million and helped fix/replace a couple roads and 16 bridges.
The second is still in place. It was $6.3 million, with $4.1 already spent. That one has been used to pave a road and replace/repair five bridges.
Rissman noted the TIF has allowed the county to do work that would have had to wait 5-10 years before being addressed. There are at least 10 bridges that would have closed and probably never opened again without the TIF money.
The 33 turbines due to be built in the next year-and-a-half will help increase property tax revenues for years to come, making them a huge boost to the Howard County economy.