At a recent AWEA Ohio Wind Energy Summit, a speaker presented an overview of the years since the RPS took effect in Ohio. After passage, supporters noticed a problem in the state’s tax code: It never contemplated wind farms or alternative-energy projects. Wind farms were covered under the tax code as a public utility. When assessing the tax burden, Ohio’s tax code resulted in a per megawatt tax of $40,000 to $45,000. Nobody would build a wind farm facing that penalty.
To the rescue came Ohio State Sen. Chis Widener, motivated with the understanding that state development needs capital investment and job creation. Widener worked with a range of parties to pass Ohio Bill 232 which established the figure of $9,000/MW in local government taxes, an average of surrounding states. And to qualify for the new tax rate, half the work force had to be Ohioans. This included during construction of each project, build-up and repair of county roads, training and equipping emergency first-responders, and more.
As soon as that bill took effect, the two big projects operating today broke ground, Blue Creek and Timber Road. It’s rare, say observers, to see a piece of economic development legislation pass and quickly result in $775 million in capital investment and job creation.
What’s more, seven other projects have received their Ohio Power Cycle Board certificate which means they could break ground soon. Those projects total over 800 MW for about $1.6 billion in capital investment, $7.2 million in annual tax payments, and over $6 million in annual land-lease payments. And the numbers do not include the 500 or 600 MW in the queue going through the application process.
For his work jump starting wind power in Ohio, we recognize State Senator Chris Widener as a Windpower Influencer for 2014. Senator Widener represents the 10th Senate District, which includes Madison, Clark and Greene counties. Before coming to the Senate, he served three terms as the State Representative for the 84th House District.
Throughout his tenure in the legislature, Senator Widener has championed policy that promotes limited government, low taxes, strong schools, and he works to encourage business development and job creation in local communities. Notably, he won support in the Senate for Senate Bill 232, which has created more than 700 clean energy construction jobs by reforming the tax code to make Ohio a more competitive state for advanced and renewable energy industries. WPE
Filed Under: Featured, Innovators & influencers