Wind farms: turbines assessed at fraction of value

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.

What's your reaction?


  • Greg Latiak
    Posted May 13, 2015 8:38 am 0Likes

    Sweetheart deals may be illegal but they are central to the GEA. The locals are exploited and their resources go to enrich someone else with better connections to the seat of power. This is classic colonial exploitation and we are the natives being robbed. Instead of improving our lives for having to suffer with these projects (like the CBC article today about mining communities) we are being reduced to abject poverty while Queens Park gets richer.

  • R Budd
    Posted May 13, 2015 9:08 am 0Likes

    CANWEA was telling the wind industry years before the GEA came out that Ontario had the lowest tax assessment of any of the provinces.
    When the GEA came out with its wildly generous FIT rates, the tax cap stayed exactly the same. The gov’t and the wind industry didn’t feel the need to share any benefit with the host municipality.
    Clearly the rural communities were just the cheap raw material needed for this epic give away.
    Re. the CBC piece on the diamond industry working secretly with Queens Park….good story, but the GEA dwarfs this, both in the loss of public revenue and the degree of collusion and kickbacks. But I won’t hold my breath for the CBC to tackle this one unfortunately…it’s too “GREEN”

  • BWM
    Posted May 13, 2015 10:54 am 0Likes

    So what would happen if a community set the maximum value for property tax purposes equal to the value of an average wind turbine. Mill rates for residential properties would go way down, but wouldn’t turbines then be paying their share? Their max assessment would be what it is now, but the taxes they pay would go way up.

    • Parker Gallant
      Posted May 13, 2015 5:16 pm 0Likes

      Dwight Duncan directed MPAC in 2012 to assess wind turbines at $40K per megawatt. Fact Sheet from Press Release here:

      • Bwm
        Posted May 13, 2015 5:29 pm 0Likes

        We can’t change the assessed value. But if everyone had their assessed value reduced (as a % of market value) mill rates would need to rise and turbines would then be taxed at a higher mill rate. The inequity would be eliminated.

        • Parker Gallant
          Posted May 13, 2015 6:00 pm 0Likes

          Great idea but the problem is that MPAC would have to agree and they won’t because their income comes from the municipalities who are required to pay MPAC a fee for the assessments. The more they assess a property they more the township pays them.

        • Gears
          Posted May 14, 2015 6:21 pm 0Likes

          It’s actually all laid out in the Assessment Act. $40k/MW with NO provisioning for indexing or adjustment of any sort. Unless the Assessment Act is changed…it will still be $40k/MW in 20 years. From a time value of money perspective…municipalities lose again!

          • BWM
            Posted May 14, 2015 7:49 pm 0Likes

            Does the Act specify the mill rate in the assessed value of Turbines? If not then this might work.

    • Parker Gallant
      Posted May 15, 2015 12:09 pm 0Likes

      Industrial mill rates are set by the township and if increased would harm all industry in the municipality, not just the wind developer.

  • Sommer
    Posted May 13, 2015 6:39 pm 0Likes

    Meanwhile residents who have not had their property value reassessed because they’re afraid of what they may find out regarding their reduced property values because of turbines having been placed so close, are still paying the same tax rates as they were before the turbines were constructed? Please correct me if I’m wrong about this.

    • Parker Gallant
      Posted May 14, 2015 9:07 am 0Likes

      I would encourage them to ask MPAC for the comparables they used to assess their property and than do their own research on the MPAC site. You are allowed to view up to 100 assessments and than challenge MPAC.

  • Barbara
    Posted May 14, 2015 6:14 pm 0Likes

    Even if the developers paid more taxes to the local governments this is still a federal tax deductible item for them. So the public pays for this in one way or another.
    Raise local taxes on them and they in turn write off the increased taxes at the federal level.

  • Barbara
    Posted May 14, 2015 9:34 pm 0Likes

    Gowlings, How To End A Commercial Tenancy, Sept., 2013
    See Step 4, Be strategic
    Tenant insolvency and bankruptcy
    In the case of tenant bankruptcy 90 days for trustee to decide if the lease can be walked away from or assign the lease to someone else to use the premises for a use other than the permitted use under the lease.
    Just some general information on landlord & tenant lease issues.

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