Commissioners have established Delaware County as an alternative energy zone.
Economic Development Director Bob Lamb said it’s a property tax tool to retain current businesses and attract new businesses.
“We’ve removed a potential barrier for businesses looking to make a decision to invest in Delaware County,” said Lamb. “We want to make sure we’re as easy a choice to invest in as Franklin County or other Central Ohio communities.”
Lamb said many corporations attempt to be more competitive by reducing energy costs. Wind turbines and solar panels are examples of the cost-saving equipment used by companies. He said investing in and installing this type of equipment on a property would have increased property taxes.
In an alternative energy zone, he said, investors in solar, wind, geothermal, clean coal and clean gas would be exempt from real and personal property taxes. He said the owner of a facility would make payments based on the equipment’s generating capacity instead of taxes.
“We’re trying to eliminate additional cost so businesses can make those type investments,” Lamb said.
The county is requiring that the equipment have the capacity to generate no less than five megawatts of electricity. He said since the capacity minimum is five megawatts, the investment in equipment would be substantial.
According to Lamb, companies will need a large amount of space to produce that kind of power. He said whether it’s for a major office building or a manufacturing center, the demand and cost of energy is only going to go up.
“I think you’ll see it more from individual businesses who are in large facilities,” he said. “It’s a more friendly environment when it comes to the cost of energy needed. I know companies will sell power back to the grid to help reduce cost. Given that, there’s a pilot payment we established at $9,000 per megawatt.”
The resolution commissioners approved July 27 explains the pilot, which stands for payment in lieu of taxes: “The amount of the annual pilot shall be the amount per megawatt set forth in section 5727.75(G) of the Revised Code.”
“The amount of each additional annual service payment shall be the difference between $9,000 and the annual pilot payment required to be made under section 5727.75(G) of the Revised Code per megawatt, multiplied by the nameplate capacity in megawatts of the alternative energy project.”
“The combined annual payments shall be equal to $9,000.00 for each megawatt of nameplate capacity of the alternative energy facility.”
Lamb said he didn’t think there would be wind or solar farms in Delaware County because of the high land values. He said wind and solar farms would probably be located outside of the the county where land values are lower.
“What we want to see, is that our corporate, our small businesses and our local businesses are able to make investments in their properties that will help them be competitive, that will allow them to keep their business here because we provided them the tools to be competitive,” Lamb said.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.