From an article by Colleen Kottke in the Fond du Lac Reporter:
Local municipalities are profiting from the wind. While many residents in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties live nowhere near the turbines dotting the landscape, the revenue stream from the towering towers is helping to offset increases in property taxes.
Last year, owners of Wisconsin’s four largest wind energy projects paid out nearly $2.8 million in rent to landowners hosting turbines and payments in lieu of property taxes to local governments, according to figures compiled by RENEW Wisconsin, a statewide renewable energy advocacy organization.
Fond du Lac County, which is home to 166 wind turbines, received a revenue payment of $625,000. Dodge County received $296,000 in payments for hosting 85 wind turbines.
“While we didn’t designate the income for anything in particular, we did use it to pay the bills of the county. Ultimately, it saves on property tax,” said Fond du Lac County Executive Allen Buechel.
Towns and counties do not collect property taxes from wind turbines but instead receive payments based on the generating capacity of each turbine, allocated under a formula adopted by the state Legislature in 2003.
Of the total revenue paid out to local governmental entities, counties retain two-thirds of the payments while townships hosting the turbines receive one-third. Payments to those local governments in Fond du Lac and Dodge counties will reach almost $1.6 million for 2010.
Wind energy developers negotiate lease agreements with landowners to host turbines on their property. Payments can be as high as $7,000 per turbine each year. Estimated rental payments to all Fond du Lac and Dodge county landowners will total slightly more than $1.2 million for 2010. Property owners hosting the 88 wind turbines in the Blue Sky Green Field wind farm in townships of Marshfield and Calumet divvied up a total of $440,000 paid to them by WeEnergies.
Marshfield Township Chairman John Bord said the $121,000 received from WeEnergies was used to keep rising property taxes in check in the town.