Wind companies file 112 new tax petitions against Tuscola County, townships

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Signs promoting the economic benefits of wind turbine projects like these at the intersection of M-81/M-53 are popping up throughout Michigan’s Thumb region. At the same time, wind companies are taking local jurisdictions to court over claims of paying too much in taxes. (Photo by John Cook)

Subsidiaries of NextEra Energy Resources L.L.C. have filed 112 new petitions against Tuscola County and several townships, once again contesting millions in taxes paid and forcing local jurisdictions to sit on revenue from wind turbines.

Tuscola Bay Wind L.L.C. and Tuscola Wind II L.L.C. filed the petitions with the Michigan Tax Tribunal against Tuscola County and Gilford, Akron, and Fairgrove townships at the end of May. The state court verified the petitions July 19.

For the third year in a row, the two subsidiaries of Juno Beach, Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources L.L.C. claim the taxable value of their wind turbines in Tuscola County have been improperly assessed.

Because of that, the petitions claim the NextEra Energy Resources subsidiaries paid too much in taxes and they are due a refund.

With the Michigan Tax Tribunal yet to rule on the original petitions filed by NextEra companies in 2014 and 2015, any government body being challenged by NextEra has had to put money away in case they need to pay it back – instead of putting it to use on everything from services for veterans to road improvements.

That includes Tuscola County, which has put about $1.5 million in escrow already.

“I’m not happy that they are making us go through this aggravation, but I did expect it to happen,” said James Stockmeyer, supervisor, Gilford Township. “I knew once a company started dealing with the township that there was a possibility they were just promising things…big companies always make promises they usually don’t keep.”

(Story first appeared in the print edition of The Tuscola County Advertiser on July 30, 2016. To read the rest of the story online, please click here)

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