What’s Good Policy?
The North Dakota Legislature isn’t meeting this year, but that doesn’t mean policy discussions are quiet. Legislative interim committees continue to meet, seeking information that will lead to policy changes during the 2019 legislative session … changes that affect everyone in North Dakota. The Energy Development and Transmission Committee continues to pursue wind energy policy. Legislators continue to explore all aspects of wind energy including more or less wind energy development and wind energy taxes. It appears legislators are considering a wind energy tax.
I believe a new wind energy tax is bad policy.
With a super Republican majority in the Legislature, the thought of imposing a new tax is contrary to core values of the Republican Party. North Dakotan’s are rarely in favor of increasing taxes at any level.
Perhaps it’s wise to remind legislators that wind energy projects already pay their fair share of taxes. Wind energy pays state sales tax and landowners pay state income tax on wind easements, and on the annual payments they receive for the use of their land.
The wind energy tax benefits to counties has been very valuable in counties that otherwise lack new business development. In counties where wind developments have been built, like Adams or Burleigh Counties, school districts, fire and emergency services and general funds have seen hundreds of thousands of new dollars annually. Just this week, I had a conversation with a few local residents in Emmons County, and they all agreed, the county will benefit greatly from the projected wind developments slated to happen in 2019-2020. With so many rural counties seeing decreases in population, a new revenue source is a welcome surprise and a welcome benefit. (A study by NDSU in 2017, shows wind had a $170 million impact, $2.8 billion construction expenses in North Dakota and paid $8 million in property taxes.)
Legislators should discuss supporting wind energy as a viable resource that diversifies our rural economy, and encourage wind investments rather than impose new taxes and drive investors to other states for projects; leaving North Dakota in the dust. This supports North Dakota’s current path toward an all-of-the-above energy strategy.
Holding true to Republican values, the idea of establishing a new tax of any kind contradicts Republican philosophy. 2018 is an election year. Can’t wait to see if Republicans campaign on a talking point of no new taxes … allowing citizens to keep more dollars in their pockets.