August 9, 2018 Read More →

Minnesota’s burgeoning wind industry is paying millions in dividends to county governments

Energy News Network:

Minnesota’s wind energy tax is helping rural counties hold the line on levy increases and pay for road repairs and other infrastructure projects.

Revenue from the state’s wind energy tax has increased more than fivefold over the past decade to $12.7 million in 2018, according to Minnesota Department of Commerce. Wind farms larger than 12 MW pay $1.20 per MWh, while smaller farms pay just 36 cents per MWh.

“Wind revenue is now a key source of income for many counties, relieving the property tax burden on homeowners and businesses,” said Commerce Commissioner Jessica Looman.

The revenue is especially important because wind developments tend to be sited in counties with lower than average income. The five leading Minnesota counties for wind revenue have median family incomes more than $10,000 below the state average of $57,000.

“In some of these rural counties, wind revenues represent 20 percent of their annual operating budgets,” said Isak Kvam, a communications and policy associate with the pro-wind advocacy group Wind on the Wires. “It’s not often that these communities have a multi-million business knocking on their doors.”

The boon is hardly confined to Minnesota or the Midwest. A Moody’s Investment Service report released earlier this year found 400 counties around the country receive tax revenues.  

More: Windfall: Minnesota counties use wind tax money for roads, tax relief

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