BAD AXE, Mich. – In multiple conversations with local residents of Huron County, Mich., a clear theme is that while the 472 wind turbines quietly circling above local farms are visible, the financial benefits they provide are not.

One woman waiting in line at Emma’s Coffee House said she hears about how wind projects pay local taxes, but she doesn’t know what difference they make.

“It’s good for the farmers with the turbines,” she said, “but I don’t see how it helps anyone else.”

Her feelings are echoed by studies led by Dr. Sarah Mills of the University of Michigan. Mills’ work shows that officials of Michigan communities with wind projects can’t always explain how the taxes from wind benefit them.

“Because the tax bills paid by wind developers are not differentiated from other property tax revenues, few of the interviewees could point to specific projects made possible by the additional revenue. In the words of one, ‘It goes all over, just the same as any other tax money’.”

We set out to learn just where the money goes in Huron County and asked the county treasurer. They asked that we submit a Freedom of Information Act request for the data, which we have filed. We’ll update with more details when the request is fulfilled.

Mike Mikus is a reporter for 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.

You may also want to read:

Despite Opponent Arguments, Wind Energy Fills Sails In Huron County

Anti-Wind Activists Leave Trail of Recrimination, Lost Revenue In Rural Michigan Communities