By Ken de la Bastide
There is likely to be more wind turbines dotting the landscape around north central Indiana in the coming year following the extension of a wind energy tax credit by the Congress.
Included in the “fiscal cliff” legislation approved earlier this week is a provision to extend the wind energy tax credit for another year. The tax credit was scheduled to expire Monday.
One important change in the legislation is that to be eligible for the tax credit a project has to be started in 2013. Prior legislation required projects to be completed before the tax credit expired.
The production tax credit provides a 2.2-cent tax break for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced from large-scale wind farms.
E-on Climate & Renewables scrambled over the final months of 2012 to have construction of the 125 wind turbines in Madison and Tipton counties completed by the end of the year.
E-on has plans for four phases of construction as a part of the Wildcat Wind Farm that will cover portions of four counties.
There are 69 turbines located in Tipton County and 56 in Madison County as part of Phase 1 of the planned development. Phase 1 had an estimated total investment of $400 million. Phase 1 will produce 200 megawatts of electricity, enough to provide electrical power to 60,000 homes.
Phase 2 is to be developed in Howard and Grant counties with 40-to-60 wind turbines to be constructed. Around 80 percent of the project located in Grant County. It is expected to generate 100 megawatts of electricity.
Phase 3 will have 65 percent of the wind turbines in Howard County, southeast of Greentown, with the remainder in Grant County. Phase 4 will be located entirely in Tipton County. The two phases will generate an anticipated 800 megawatts of electricity.
Matt Tullis, a spokesman for E-on, said Thursday the legislation approved by Congress was a big change in terms of the tax credit.
“The projects have to be started, not completed by the end of 2013,” he said. “It helps us in terms of getting started this year.”
Tullis said the company was pleased to see the extension approved by the Congress.
He said there is still more development to be completed on Phase 2 of the project before construction work can begin.
Matt Heck with juwi Wind, which plans to construct the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm in Prairie and Liberty townships in Tipton County, said the extension of the tax credits is great news for the project.
“We’re moving full speed ahead,” he said. “We will start the project by the end of 2013.”
Heck said there are a lot uncertainties in the legislation as to what exactly is meant by the start of a project in the federal legislation.
The company expects to submit an application with the Tipton County Plan Commission by Jan. 18 for a conditional use permit for the placement of the wind farm. The Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals will have to approve the permit application.
“We hope to get the permit approval in February or March,” he said.
juwi Wind intends to construct between 30 and 95 wind turbines as part of the Prairie Breeze project. Heck said the number of turbines to be constructed has not been determined.
The company will invest between $100 million and $300 million on the project.