Leipsic still considered good area for wind farm
By NANCY KLINE
LEIPSIC — The Leipsic area remains a good spot for a wind farm, a developer said Friday, even though negotiations have broken off with Putnam County Commissioners for a massive project there.
Putnam County Community Improvement Corp. director Martin Kuhlman sent an email Nov. 10 notifying commissioners the developer, Iberdrola Renewables, was terminating negotiations with the county and no longer considered Putnam County a “preferred wind energy project.”
Iberdrola, based in Bilbao, Spain, is the world’s largest developer of alternative energy projects. Iberdrola representatives introduced their proposal in July for a 75-unit wind farm in Van Buren Township.
Iberdrola said the project’s estimated 150-megawatt generating capacity translates into a potential $600,000 to $900,000 tax revenue per year for 15 years, to be shared by Putnam County, Van Buren Township and Leipsic Local Schools.
Putnam County Commissioner Vince Schroeder said he thinks Kuhlman’s email was a reaction to the commissioners’ rejection of Iberdrola’s proposed payment schedule. He said the commissioners want the full amount the county, township and school district are entitled to under Senate Bill 232, the state law establishing a tax range per megawatt for alternative source companies, based on the percentage of Ohio labor they use to build the project.
“Iberdrola believes Leipsic School District and the Van Buren Township Trustees have acted in good faith and in a professional manner during the negotiations of the EZ agreement,” Kuhlman stated in his email.
“The Leipsic wind project could have an opportunity to have a tremendous impact on the community,” said Tim Lang, Iberdrola senior developer. Lang confirmed he was unhappy that during a recent conference call with the commissioners he was not informed a member of the local media was present.
Schroeder confirmed a member of the media did walk in while the conversation was taking place.
Lang said talks continue with the Putnam County Commissioners regarding the enterprise zone agreement. The trustees and school board have agreed to items set forth in the negotiations.
Lang expressed uncertainty Iberdrola would meet the qualifications set forth in Senate Bill 232 to obtain tax incentives for alternative energy sources, especially the deadlines for construction.
If these conditions are not met, it is uncertain what the tax rate per megawatt will be.
“We don’t know what Congress will pass in the future,” Lang said. “As with any long term investment, we are exploring ways to ensure that tax liability is predictable and competitive.”
Prior to the passage of Senate Bill 232 earlier this year, the company was negotiating an enterprise zone to provide set amounts for the taxation. CIC director Kuhlman said if nothing is negotiated and they do not meet the SB 232 qualifications, the company could have to pay up to $40,000 per megawatt.