Tuesday, June 27, 2017

MidAmerican Wind Property tax Update

What kind of changes would simplify county assessors ability to verify that all wind farm costs are accounted for when performing assessments. Memos to the assessors from the department of revenue instruct them to do just that, but it doesn't appear that is being done, MidAmerican, and probably other wind projects as well, seem to self reporting their wind farm costs.

Proper formatting of cost reporting filings by wind projects would be a great help to assessors comply with the DOR's recommendation. In my opinion, MidAmerican's county filings leave much room for improvement. But, before we get to that, let's review a filing by an independent wind project in Pocahontas county that,I think, did a very good job of reporting the installed cost of their wind project.

Cover page lists total cost, and a per turbine cost.These are 2 megawatt turbines, I believe, and the installed cost per kilowatt in relatively close to the Iowa Wind energy Association's cost estimates of constructing wind turbines    


Nicely organized.
As you can see, project costs are organized so the assessor can see the cost of individual items, such as turbines, foundations, labor, construction, substation equipment, and it is possible for the assessor or a 3rd party consultant  knowledgeable with wind project costs, to contact suppliers of this type of equipment to verify costs, and visually inspect the wind property verify that all equipment and costs have been listed.

Note that this project includes substation grid interconnection costs as wind property, when I noted in previous posts that MidAmerican is claiming these costs in the Iowa utility replacement tax. This is very unfair to this Minneapolis company, as I don't believe they could utilize the replacement excise tax to lower property tax costs. 

Now let's review examples of MidAmerican's wind filings in the same county.  While the MEC filings I've reviewed have cover pages with cost summary's, their breakdown of substation and turbine costs don't list as many individual items. The assessor must navigate 50 some pages of the invoice spreadsheet list that frankly, seem hard to verify they were used on this project. 

Also, the MEC reported this project to cost less on a cost per kilowatt basis, than the independent project  in the same county listed above. It's installed cost is also lower than the cost the utility reported to FERC and the utilities board. Also lower than the Iowa Wind Energy Association's cost of wind estimate for that time period. This should concern a county assessor IMO.   

It also concerns me that I can't verify that MEC always includes supporting documentation of costs when adding turbines at a site, or in this case, when costs were lowered one phase of this project  a few years later with no apparent explanation or documentation as to why they were lowered. 


That's all for now. 


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