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Wind turbines such as this one going up in Ohio could boost the Wells County economy.

Wells County wind farm breathes life into area

By any measure, the economic effects of a 200-megawatt, 86-turbine wind energy project on Wells County will be substantial. The $336 million Wells County Wind project offers the community more benefits than other projects that have been recruited to locate in Wells County.

In February 2011, Wells County commissioned Umbaugh & Associates to evaluate the project’s tax effect. Umbaugh found it would generate $17.1 million in property taxes over its 25-year lifetime and add $4.6 million to Southern Wells School Corporation, $133,351 to the Chester Township Fire Fund and $98,681 to the Liberty Township Fire Fund.

Farmers, homeowners and businesses would see their tax liability decline because a greater share of the property taxes that can be collected by the county will be paid by the wind project itself. Depending upon the township, the tax liability for a business valued at $100,000 would be reduced by $125 to $133 per year; for a farmer with 200 acres of land, it would be reduced by $400 per year.

In addition, Wells County Wind will negotiate an economic development agreement with the county that could add as much as $2.4 million in direct economic development payments to the county in the first three years of operation.

For the lifetime of the project, local landowners will receive direct payments from the project. Combined, these landowner payments begin at $1.4 million per year and total $50 million over 25 years.

Tim Ehlerding, economic development executive director for Wells County, evaluated the ongoing landowner payments to determine the effect these payments would have in Wells County. He determined that $607,612 in new dollars would be spent in Wells County each year on goods and services. While not part of Ehlerding’s analysis, these new dollars will create new part-time and full-time jobs within the community.

Along with new revenue for the county come jobs, both during construction and during the operational life of the wind farm. Assuming a $336 million investment, Ehlerding found that $14.8 million would be spent in Wells County on labor, materials and other goods and services during project construction.

The wages received by construction workers would inject $1.4 million in the local economy. During the 25-year operational life of the project, about 10 full-time jobs would be created. The wages from these positions would produce $250,000 in annual spending in Wells County. In addition, the operation and maintenance of the turbines is expected to inject $546,210 into the local economy.

If you agree that these economic effects have the potential to boost the Wells County economy, please tell your Wells County commissioners and County Council that you are pro-business and that you support bringing smart economic development projects such as Wells County Wind to this county.

For more information on the project or how you can help bring it to fruition, please contact Rob Propes, Apex Wind Energy, at 919-710-3429, or email rob@apexwind.com.

Rob Propes is a development manager for Apex Wind Energy based in Charlottesville, Va. He wrote this for Fort Wayne newspapers.

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