Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

December 13, 2012

Group recommends 10-year tax abatement

Prairie Breeze opponents to meet tonight

By Ken de la Bastide
KOKOMO TRIBUNE

TIPTON — The Tipton County Review Committee is recommending the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm receive a 10-year tax abatement, according to members of the county council.

The review committee, consisting of Mike Cline, president of the Tipton County Board of County Commissioners; Beth Roach, a member of the Tipton County Council; and Steve Edson, director of the county plan commission, will make the formal recommendation to the full council Tuesday.

Juwi Wind LLC has proposed construction of a wind farm between County Road 200 North and the Howard County line, and 400 West to the Clinton County line.

The company is expected to invest between $100 million and $300 million.

The county council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Tipton County Foundation building to consider the company’s request for a tax abatement, as well as a request from Chrysler Group LLC for a 10-year tax abatement for the former Getrag building at the intersection of U.S. 31 and Ind. 28.

Roach said the review committee made the 10-year recommendation because a 10-year abatement was approved for the Wildcat Wind Farm under development in the eastern part of the county by E.ON Climate & Renewables.

She said money from lease agreements by juwi Wind is going back to the farmers in the area.

A group of local residents have started a petition drive in opposition to the wind farm. That group is meeting at 6 p.m. tonight in the South Branch of the Kokomo/Howard County Public Library, 1755 E. Center Road.

Brian Key, a member of the opposition group, said its objective is to convince the council to reject the abatement request and send it back to the commissioners for public input.

“There should be no reason to rush this through in this area of the county,” he said in an email. “Juwi is not wanting to start construction until 2014 or 2015.”

At the November meeting of the council, Councilman Brad Nichols recommended the county consider granting a seven-year tax abatement. At that meeting Nichols said the county would receive an estimated $600,000 in additional tax revenue.

A study done by Umbaugh & Associates indicated, on a 50-megawatt project, juwi would pay $2.3 million in taxes if a 10-year abatement is approved and $2.9 million if a seven-year abatement is granted.

For a 100-megawatt project, the company would pay $4.5 million in taxes with a 10-year abatement and $5.6 million if it received a seven-year tax abatement.

“We have been working in Tipton County for several years,” juwi spokesman Matt Heck said in November.

“We have leases with 50 local property owners which contains 150 parcels.”

Heck said the company recently installed two additional wind measuring towers in the area.

The commissioners passed a resolution in support of the project in November. The project is a permitted use under Tipton County zoning regulations, but would need a conditional use permit approved by the Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals.

The company has agreed to pay an economic development fee of $700,000 to Tipton County over four years on a 50-megawatt project. For each megawatt over 52, the company would pay the county $11,000 for a possible total of $1.3 million.

Heck said there will be between 31 and 94 wind turbines included in the project.