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Wind farms up in arms over huge hike in rates

Wind farms up in arms over huge hike in rates
03:55, 1 March 2015 by Jack Horgan-Jones

The Irish wind energy industry has cried foul over what it says will be a tripling of the commercial rates that wind farms must pay to local authorities.
The increase has come about after a change in the way in which the Rates Valuation Office calculates the amount due from each wind turbine.
While the valuation change has affected most businesses as well as conventional power plants, figures in the wind industry have said that no other industry has seen a tripling of its rates.
Senior sources in the industry said that the change to rates valuation would fundamentally affect the financial models underpinning many of the existing wind farms on the island, as well as power plants that have yet to be built.
The wind lobby has been intensifying its efforts to tackle the issue in recent months by encouraging its members to write to junior finance minister Simon Harris, who has direct responsibility for the rates valuation office.
Sources said that an amendment to a piece of legislation, the Valuation Amendment Bill 2012, could provide for an exemption for wind energy and remove the threat that the industry says it is facing.
Political sources, however, said that a special exemption for the technology was by no means guaranteed, although a final decision has not yet been made.
Green Party energy spokesman Ossian Smyth said that “charging local rates on electricity generation is a good thing because it means that money is being returned to the local council from local activity. However, it is crazy to charge wind farms a multiple of the taxes charged to coal and gas power stations”.
Irish Wind Energy Association chief executive Kenneth Matthews said: “The wind sector in Ireland can pay €160 million in rates over the next seven years. We pay €14 million a year and that will grow to €27 million.
“However, if rates are excessively high you threaten the ability to have those rates paid.”
Elsewhere, correspondence seen by The Sunday Business Post shows that Goffs, the bloodstock auctioneer, is arranging a briefing session related to what it says is the threat to the industry posed by wind turbines and overhead pylons.
A meeting is to be arranged with economist Colm McCarthy and energy expert Malcolm Brown and 50 “industry leaders” at Goffs on March 4.
The meeting is being arranged with the Irish Thoroughbred Association.

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