That money has helped pay for improved roads, services and school facilities.
County Treasurer Debra McCollum provided the information after Checks & Balances Project filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the funding data.
That money goes to several areas, including:
- More than $2.5 million was spent on county and township road maintenance, Huron County financial records show. Townships in Huron County without revenues from wind projects have had difficulty finding the money to pay for road maintenance.
- The Huron Intermediate School District received $2.4 million to support various education programs and facilities.
- Operating funds. Another $2.1 million was spent on county operations, the financial records show.
Huron County has 472 turbines, the most in the state, and is home to the first wind farm in Michigan.
But county voters approved a moratorium on further wind projects, and county officials have been in a six-year dispute with utility companies over the tax rate for wind turbines in the county.
Well-funded school projects
Many of Huron County’s school districts use money from wind-related taxes to pay off debt for bond issues approved by voters.
For the Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port-Laker School District in Huron County, the “taxable value of the district has more than doubled in the past 10 years, due in large part to the taxes assessed on wind turbines,” according to a school district news release.
In May 2018, voters in the district approved a $19.1 million bond issue, as well as a supplement to a district account that would be financed in large part by wind taxes. That enabled the district to build a new athletic facility, innovation center and school auditorium.
In 2020, wind revenues paid $494,362 in taxes for school operations in the district, $707,753 to pay off the debt from the bond issue and $257,163 into the sinking fund for Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port-Laker schools. In total, the school district collected $1.46 million from wind projects.
Click link below for Huron County wind revenues
Jeff Smith, Huron County’s zoning coordinator, said the county and its townships are making more money from wind than they had without it.
Smith’s views are echoed by the findings of a Berkeley Laboratories report on wind revenues and schools released earlier this year. It found that “wind energy installation substantially increased district revenues, causing large increases in capital outlays, but only modest increases in current spending, and little to no change in class sizes or teacher salaries.”
Mike Mikus is a reporter and Ray Locker is executive director of Checks and Balances Project, an investigative watchdog blog holding government officials, lobbyists, and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP is provided by Renew American Prosperity and individual donors.
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