Northwest Missouri could lose massive tax revenue from local wind farms if a bill on the Senate floor is not passed.
The proposed legislation would revise state statutes relating to the taxation of the property involved in producing wind energy. It would modify statutes that allow public utilities to purchase wind farms and distribute tax revenues throughout its service grid. After revisions, House Bill 220 passed in a 151-1 vote.
The bill is sponsored by First District Rep. Allen Andrews, R-Mo., and was created upon Ameren’s proposed purchase of a new Atchison County development.
Ameren is a utility company similar to Kansas City Power and Light Co. but is usually unheard of to those in Atchison County, where there is no service provided by the company.
Because of this, Ameren would be able to spread tax revenue from the wind farm elsewhere under state statutes prior to the bill.
Andrews said the bill would prevent the loss of a large amount of money supplementing local interests.
“These areas with wind farms are seeing around $3 million in tax revenue,” Andrews said. “The loss of this money would greatly impact a number of different local institutions, including and not limited to schools and fire stations.”
Northwest Missouri, known for small, close-knit communities, consequently has a smaller base of local revenue and is beginning to rely on resources unique to its communities. One thing northwest Missouri does have is a natural abundance of wind.
Tax revenues from area wind farms have served as a resource to help fund schools, police departments, hospitals and other local needs.
Andrews mentioned that if tax revenue from wind farms doesn’t stay local, funding for important items in communities would take a big hit.
“So, at this point, Atchison County stands to lose millions of dollars in tax revenue as the state statute currently reads,” Andrews said in an interview with KMA broadcasting, a radio station out of Shenandoah, Iowa. “Unless I’m successful in getting my bill to the governor, that’s what’s going to happen.”
As of now, all wind farms in Missouri are privately owned and located in just four counties: Atchison, Nodaway, Gentry and DeKalb. Those four accounts for all of Missouri’s wind energy efforts.
In 2008, Rock Port, Missouri, became the nation’s first 100 percent wind-powered community, where four wind turbines supply power to the small town.
The town of a little less than 1,300 people, according to Missouri Ruralist, uses approximately 13 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year. The article said experts believe the four wind turbines are capable of nearly 16 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year.
The success of local wind farms in northwest Missouri is inspiring more counties to propose new wind farm developments as a part of a broader sense of renewable energy efforts throughout the state.
Counties moving in that direction are Adair and Schuyler. Further developments are taking place in Atchison and Nodaway County.
Missouri and the surrounding states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska have a combined nearly 24 percent of the total U.S. wind power capacity according to Missouri Department of Economic Development Division of Energy.
In addition, Missouri’s wind speed is 10 mph faster than other states usually associated with the wind energy industry.
Andrews mentioned how wind farms are one among many things northwest Missouri does well.
“Northwest Missouri does a lot of things really well, and one of those is capturing wind and producing energy from it,” Andrews said.
J. Eggleston, R-Mo., spoke in favor of the bill with Andrews on the house floor, siding with keeping tax revenues local.
“We know the benefits of these turbines,” Eggleston said. “I am wholeheartedly in support of what you're doing, and I hope the body does too.”