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Hoosier Energy Seeking Tax Abatement For Proposed Solar Site
Updated April 6, 2015 7:13 PM | Filed under: Business
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(BLOOMFIELD) - Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc. is seeking a tax abatement and designation as an Economic Revitalization Area for a tract of land in Greene County south of Bloomfield.

A public hearing on the matter will take place on Monday, April 27 at 4 p.m. immediately preceding the next meeting of the Greene County Council in the commissioner's room at the courthouse in Bloomfield.

According to the Greene County Daily World, Chuck Martindale of Hoosier Energy and Brian Sparks of UDWI-REMC is seeking the ERA and tax abatement.

According to a report submitted to the council by Hoosier Energy, the cooperative, which includes UDWI-REMC among its 18 members, wants to install a photovoltaic solar array on a 14.5 acre tract of land in Taylor Township.

Hoosier Energy currently has a short-term option to buy land located between County Road 100 West and CR 25 South. The proposed site straddles I-69 near the NSA Crane Exit and U.S. 231 interchange.

Hoosier Energy plans to invest an estimated $2.7 million worth of equipment into the project without requesting any funding or infrastructure from the county. The equipment and the completed project would be self-sustaining according to the report.

"The solar panels conduct energy from the sun and convert the direct current, through an inverter to AC power," Martindale said. "Each one of these sights we're trying to develop will put power back into the REMC three-phase grid."

The group wants to install 4,000 to 4,500 3' x 5' solar panels on the site that would cover approximately 12 acres. The site would also have an eight foot security fence installed. The panels would be installed on low-profile structures containing six PV panels per structure. A total of 700-735 structures would make up the proposed site.

The site would generate approximately one megawatt of energy, which is the equivalent of servicing 1,000 homes during peak daytime periods or 140-150 homes per year averaging 1,200 kilowatt hours usage monthly.

There will be no cost to Greene County or Taylor Township. Also, Martindale says there will no now jobs created, but there could be some ancillary employees during the construction phase.

Martindale estimated an increase in property taxes would add nearly $4,000 to county tax ledgers - that would include the Bloomfield School District - once the abatement has expired.

"The bottom line is Greene County would benefit to the tune of about a $3,800 increase a year from the real property taxes," Martindale added. "This is based upon what is currently used as agricultural and changing it to commercial and industrial."

According to Martindale's estimates, the current tax rate based on assessed value of the land itself would increase from two percent to three percent. He estimated the annual real property taxes would jump from the current $39 per acre to $303 per acre.

County Council Attorney Marvin Abshire told the Greene County Daily World the real estate itself would not be subject to the abatement, only the proposed personal property investment of about $2.7 million. With the change in status, the tax rate would likely increase.

According to information provided by Abshire and using a previous year's abatement schedule, the first year would be a 100 percent abatement. The amount of the abatement would decline by five percent the second year, be reduced to 80 percent in year three and 65 percent in year four.

In year five the abatement would call for a 50 percent reduction with an additional 10 percent each of the next four years. In the final year the abatement would be reduced to just five percent.

Martindale estimated Hoosier Energy would pay roughly $47,000 a year in taxes not affected by the sought after abatement.

He noted in the group's proposal, Hoosier Energy paid $292,722 in real and personal property tax payments on Greene County assets with a total taxable value of $20,645,140 in a total of 14 townships in the county. They also spent over $1.7 million with local vendors.

As for a direct effect on consumers who are users of UDWI-REMC services, Sparks says the new site would be of some benefit. He projected it would aid in keeping consumer rates as low as possible by helping defer usage at peak times and helping reduce the burden on local substations and area generating stations.

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