MPAC looking at effects of wind turbines on assessment

A  study which will show whether the value of the property around industrial wind turbines has changed is just about complete.

Officials from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation talked to Lambton County Councilors about how the wind energy projects are assessed for tax purposes and what affect they have on surrounding property owners.

Officials say privately owned turbines and those owned by non-profit organizations aren’t subject to taxes but industrial turbines in commercial projects are. A 1.5 megawatt turbine – typical of the industrial projects – is valued at $60,000.That fact didn’t sit well with county councilors. “How did someone come up with $40,000 on a structure that is worth $6 million,” says Brooke Alvinston Mayor Don McGugan.

Tim BrownMPAC

Tim Brown

St. Clair Township Mayor Steve Arnold says the artificially low assessment means lower tax revenue for the municipality estimating a turbine would generate $500 to $1,000 in taxes. “That’s not a lot of dollars for the local municipalities; that’s what has driven a lot of municipalities to put extra costs onto the projects.”

Arnold says municipalities were led to believe it would up to $10,000 per turbine. “There is a lot of miscommunication.”

Councilors are also worried about how properties around the turbines are affected. Tim Brown, manager of special properties for MPAC, says a study on the issue is just about complete. MPAC is comparing sales data from properties around the turbines from 2008 and the most recent property assessment. “It is not a study on whether turbines impact sales,” says Brown. “What we’re trying to do is see if they are fairly assessed.”

But Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper is concerned even those numbers will be skewed. “Do you have the ability when you do the research to see who purchased the property?…I understand there are (wind energy) companies coming in and buying to keep the land value up…to hush them up a little bit,” says Napper.

Brown says MPAC does see the property purchaser. “If there is a concern about who is purchasing the property we can look at that, I can bring it to my analysis people.”

Brown says the report is expected to be completed by the end of February.