With ongoing discussion taking place on the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy, it’s sometimes easy to miss the fact that the PTC is an investment in America that pays a good return. In fact, some recent news coming out of Ohio highlights a dynamic that’s been happening time and time again in revenue-needy communities across America: Wind power is delivering dollars.
Recently, wind energy developer Iberdrola Renewables joined state legislators in presenting checks to local officials in the two counties that are home to the Blue Creek Wind Farm in Ohio. Van Wert County, with 115 turbines, will receive more than $2 million, making the wind farm the largest single taxpayer in the county. Paulding County will receive $666,000, based on the 37 turbines located in the county, with each turbine paying $18,000 per year. (The payments are being made in two equal installments this year, so the checks presented recently were for half those amounts.) A big recipient of those funds: local schools.
This return on investment is hardly an outlier. In 2008, a study by GE Energy Financial Services found that for wind farms built in 2007, the PTC more than paid for itself through tax revenues from project income, vendors’ profits, and individual worker wages. In other words, wind energy projects foster economic growth, from jobs and new business for a range of companies, to tax revenue and community development.
“Today’s payments highlight the importance of wind energy to northwestern Ohio,” said State Senator Cliff Hite (R-Findlay) about the Iberdrola project. “Harnessing the natural resources available in our area has attracted good jobs, produced local economic benefits, and given us energy security. This wind farm is further proof that Ohioans benefit when we work to attract new investment in our rural communities.”
In addition to tax revenue and business activity, wind farms inject dollars into localities in other ways as well, with landowners receiving lease payments for hosting turbines on their land. In 2013, U.S. land lease payments from the wind industry totaled $180 million.
Meanwhile, the communities hosting the Blue Creek Wind Farm are already seeing benefits. Local school superintendent Jeff Snyder said wind farm funds have helped his school district go from having two computer labs in the entire district to now being able to provide all 915 of its students with a computer.
“That upgrade has created such a synergy and excitement with our students, teachers, and parents, as we are using new instructional techniques every day in the classroom,” he said. “In the coming years, we’ll expand on this growth and collaborate with local businesses to provide opportunities for our students and grow the economy here in Van Wert County.”