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Wind Power Tax Reforms Could Help Ohio Catch Up with Neighbors

May 10, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Supporters of wind energy in Ohio are hoping that more of the turbines and other components manufactured in the state will end up being put to work here too, and with that in mind they're looking for changes in the way the state taxes wind power operations. Dayna Baird, who lobbies for the American Wind Energy Association, says the current tax burden for wind projects is four to ten times what it is in neighboring states.

"Which is largely why we've seen wind farm development everywhere around us - West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois - and we haven't seen any here yet."

Bills now in the state House and Senate would change the tax structure for wind projects to be more competitive with nearby states over a pilot period for the next few years. The effort has bipartisan support, but some critics worry about other provisions in the bills that include support for nuclear power and varying degrees of tax breaks.

Baird says it's worth ironing out the details, because it could mean millions of dollars in lease payments to local farmers where turbines are sited, and just as much in local tax revenue to some hard-hit rural areas. Ohio lawmakers are now preparing for their summer recess.

She says as things are now set up, the bills would really only affect seven potential wind projects, recently approved or now in the process of being approved, in Ohio.

"But these seven projects total over 1100 megawatts, so it's pretty exciting. They mean about 1,000 construction and operations and maintenance jobs for the state of Ohio."

She says that doesn't include the increase in business and jobs created by Ohio companies that manufacture turbines and other parts used in wind projects.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - OH