Wind Energy Generates Big Benefits for Iowa Counties

posted by NATHANIEL BAER on Thursday, February 16, 2017

Iowa’s leadership on wind energy has brought many benefits across Iowa, including thousands of new jobs, business attraction, and lease payments to landowners who host wind turbines. Those turbines also generate property tax revenue, which benefits counties and the local residents that use the roads, bridges, schools, health services and other infrastructure and services provided by county governments.

The Council has begun to research these benefits in more detail. Iowa has 99 counties and property tax revenue generated from wind turbines is phased in over time. We have looked at four counties in some detail where wind turbines have been installed for some time, including Buena Vista, Pottawattamie, Carroll, and Franklin. The results so far show that wind energy already provides a major contribution to these counties and supports infrastructure and services that county residents use every day.

Pottawattamie County hosts 102 wind turbines built in 2008. In a recent fiscal year (2015/2016), these turbines generated $2 million in property tax revenue. Of this, $928,039 supported local schools and $142,312 supported colleges, while the balance supported roads, rural services, fire and emergency services, and cemetery maintenance.

In Carroll County, 133 turbines were built in 2006 and 2008. Carroll County received $1.4 million in property tax revenue for the 2015/2016 fiscal year. That level of revenue has grown steadily over time as the valuation and revenue phased in; and Carroll County expects revenue grow to $1.65 million and level off at that amount.

Buena Vista County had turbines installed longer ago, with 262 turbines built in 1999 and 2004. Those are fully phased in with Buena Vista County receiving over $1.2 million annually. Of this, over $611,000 supports schools annually. One school district, the Alta school district, receives 18% of its budget from wind turbines. The revenue also supports hospitals, mental health and disability services, as well as roads, emergency services and other county needs.

Finally, Franklin County had 300 wind turbines installed in 2010 and 2012. These turbines are already contributing significant property tax revenue, which will continue to grow for several more years. The revenue from these wind turbines – over $2.6 million – already accounts for 14% of the county’s annual budget.

There are many more counties with wind installations generating significant tax revenue, and new wind projects will generate yet more revenue throughout Iowa. Last year, MidAmerican projected that its 2,000 MW Wind XI project would generate over $500 million in property tax revenue to counties over the 40-year life of the project. Alliant Energy also projected that its 400 MW wind project would generate $90 million in property taxes over 20 years. Alliant expanded that project to 500 MW, meaning more revenues can be expected. Both projects were approved last year and will be operational by 2020, meaning future revenues are in store to support schools, roads, health services, and more across Iowa counties. 

  1. wind power
  2. wind tax credits

About The Author

Nathaniel joined the Council in 2007.  He researches and advocates for policies to expand solar, wind, transmission and energy efficiency, and coordinates the Council’s coalition of allies on energy and climate issues. Nathaniel currently serves on the Midwest Power Sector Collaborativ ... read more