Rather than property and production taxes, developers of wind and other renewables will pay adjustable fees of between $6,000 and $8,000 a year for each megawatt installed, depending on the number of jobs created for Ohio workers. Projects must start construction before January 2012 and produce energy by 2013.
Counties may assess additional fees up to a $9,000/MW ceiling - far less than the previous tax treatment, which approached an annual $40,000/MW. "Taxes were pretty high - several times as much as some neighbouring states," says Emily Sauter, wind program coordinator at Green Energy Ohio. "A lot of developers were waiting for the tax issue to be resolved."
One of those, Chicago-based Invenergy, has been planning a string of Ohio projects likely to begin coming online in 2011. First is its 300MW project in Hardin County, which could bring 1.5MW GE turbines online as soon as next year. "We are in the process of finalising construction layouts to maximise the potential site," says Nazre Adum, Invenergy's director of business development in Ohio. "It is - by far - one of the most advanced projects we have."
But the Hardin project will only be the start of Invenergy's activities in the state. "Our strategy is to possibly take one project through the (construction) permitting process every year," Adum says. "We have been waiting for the past two or three years to get all of the pieces together to build projects in Ohio. Right now, it seems the momentum is there."
Two other companies also have Ohio projects approved. New York-based EverPower Wind Holdings is building the Buckeye wind project in Champaign County, with 70 turbines at up to 175MW and construction set to begin late this year or early next. Meanwhile, Juwi Wind subsidiary JW Great Lakes Wind of Ohio plans to begin installing roughly 50MW in Hardin County in early 2011.
Two phases of the Timber Road wind farm, by Horizon Wind Energy subsidiary Paulding Wind, could both begin construction next year in Paulding County and total 200MW. And Heartland Wind, a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, has near-term plans for up to 350MW at its Blue Creek wind farm in Paulding and Van Wert counties.
Ohio has also been building a bustling renewables supply chain in an effort to become a significant player in wind. And, late last year, the state defined the rules for its RPS, which was signed into law in May 2008. "We do have about 175 manufacturing facilities that are in the supply chain in Ohio," says Sauter. "But all the recent activity seems to be in reaction to the RPS."