West Virginia political leaders like to tout the fact the state is “open for business.” They state they want to remove regulation and create a welcoming climate for jobs and investment.
Unfortunately, with the state Senate’s passage of Senate Bill 16, they are sending the opposite message and may cost the state and local governments millions in revenues.
Senate Bill 16 would remove the Pollution Control Equipment Tax Treatment for wind energy projects in West Virginia. While there are more than 100 different Pollution Control Equipment Tax Treatment categories representing other technologies and industries, like power generation, coal and gas, this bill removes the treatment only on wind systems.
Removal of the tax treatment will effectively increase taxes by millions of dollars on the wind industry in West Virginia.
There are currently six wind energy projects operating in the state, representing an investment of $1.2 billion, $5 million annually in local property and business and occupation taxes, and annual landowner lease payments of $1.75 million.
There are five wind energy projects currently under consideration in West Virginia, which represent an additional investment of $815 million, local property, B&O taxes of $4.4 million annually and more than $3 million in annual landowner lease payments.
One of these proposed projects, the Mt. Storm Wind Energy Center, is projected to provide a million dollars per year to Grant County for the next 30 or more years. This is critical revenue that will help the county provide vital community services, including dollars for local schools.
SB 16 jeopardizes the financial viability of both the existing and proposed projects, putting much needed jobs in our state unnecessarily at risk.
West Virginia originally provided this incentive years ago to attract the wind industry, its considerable tax benefits and lease payments to our state.
Now, the wind industry is here, it wants to invest more and the legislature wants to change the rules in the middle of the game.
This bill is bad for business, bad for local governments and sends a bad message to other industries interested in locating here.
Cookman is a partner in Laurel Renewable Partners LLC.
Don’t kill wind energy in W.Va.