Low tax assessments just another wind power subsidy
May 13, PostMedia Network
by Peter Epp
Among the incongruities found within the Green Energy Plan is the way in which wind turbines are assessed by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC). In a word, the assessment is low.
The Ontario government’s purpose, when the plan and its accompanying legislation were approved in 2009, was to encourage the development of wind energy in this province. Developers would be given incentives, including generous subsidies. They would also be modestly taxed, which was just another form of subsidy.
For those rare municipalities that actually welcomed wind turbine development (Chatham-Kent, for one), the relatively low assessment on turbines wasn’t seen as a hurdle; it was viewed as new-found tax revenue, even if that revenue was modest when compared to what other developments might generate.
But for those municipalities that called themselves “unwilling hosts” to turbine development, the lack of sufficient assessment has become just another irritant.
In Plympton-Wyoming – which has been on the forefront of those municipalities that have been actively and vocally campaigning against wind turbine development – Mayor Lonny Napper says wind turbines worth an estimated $5 million have been assessed at a mere fraction of their value, by an estimated $60,000. Indeed, Napper suggests that every time a new turbine is erected in Plympton-Wyoming, his municipality loses tax revenue.
Speaking to a representatives of MPAC last week at Lambton County council, Napper said he finds it unfair that wind turbine developers get such a sweetheart deal – especially when it comes at the expense of local taxpayers, many of whom don’t even want the wind turbines in their community.
“Everyone else has to pay their own way,” he told the MPAC representative. “All we’re saying is pay your way upfront.”
Napper’s judgment is correct. If any other industry or commercial enterprise wanted to set up shop and do business in Plympton-Wyoming, they would have to abide by the assessment schedule of the province. They would, to use his word, pay their own way. There would be no sweetheart deal. In fact, such sweetheart deals are illegal in this province, at least according to the Ontario Municipal Act.
But the wind turbine industry gets a pass. Not only is the electricity that’s produced by the industry heavily subsidized, but so is the industry’s tax obligation to its municipal hosts, most of whom – ironically – don’t want the industry there in the first place.