The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, May. 20, 2022

County ends alternative energy zone

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

After a number of meetings on the subject, the Van Wert County Board of Commissioners have decided to terminate the countywide energy zone designation originally approved in 2009 prior to the construction of wind farms in the county.

The Van Wert Board of Commissioners meet with Ohio Power Siting Board Director Kim Wissman and her staff last week. (VW independent file photo)

The decision came a month-long series of meetings with township trustees, representatives from the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, the director of energy policy for the Van Wert Farm Bureau, Ohio Power Siting Board Director Kim Wissman and some of her staff and several concerned area residents.

Under the alternative energy zone program, utility companies received preferential tax treatment under the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program. The county’s only negotiating power with utility companies was through the meetings and appeals held through the Ohio Power Siting Board’s certification process.

However, the commissioners learned through their informational meetings that local officials have no real power to turn down wind farm construction requests, as long as local property owners are willing to lease their land and the Ohio Power Siting Board gives its approval.

With that knowledge, Board of Commissioners Chairman Thad Lichtensteiger said the commissioners felt that eliminating the alternative energy zone was the best way for the county to improve its negotiating position with energy companies, while also allowing more voices and concerns to be heard on what criteria should be used in granting contracts to wind farm projects in the county.

“Without the blanket approach of the county-wide alternative energy zone, the county will have the option of approving projects on a case-by-case basis for special tax treatment, or not grant any special tax treatment at all,” Lichtensteiger said.

Having the power to withhold special tax incentives would, in effect, make a wind farm project much less attractive to energy companies, and would provide the county with more clout in bargaining with utilities seeking to locate wind turbines in Van Wert County.

POSTED: 04/17/13 at 6:14 am. FILED UNDER: News