16 May 2019 | 02.05 pm
Wind Farm Owners ‘Crippled’ By Commercial Rates
Valuation Office is to blame
16 May 2019 | 02.05 pm
The generation of electricity from wind is being ‘crippled’ by local authority rates, according to the Irish Wind Farmers Association.
The wind industry body says that its members are being ‘overcharged’ by as much as €8m a year as a sector, a figure that could increase to €30m in a short time and by up to €60m by 2030.
Chairman Grattan Healy said: “Following the 2001 Valuation Act, the Valuation Office set about a revaluation of all rateable properties in Ireland. Up to that time, wind farms were paying roughly the same rates per megawatt of generating capacity as other electricity generating stations, and were fully accepting of same and happy to contribute to the local authority in support of their communities.
“However, the revaluation has in some instances tripled or even quadrupled rates for wind-farms, while not doing anything similar for other generators. Such large increases amount to unfair government policy.”
He instanced two examples, one where an IWFA member is being asked to pay well over €100,000 per annum, up from €40,000, and another in Co Limerick has a demand for well over €80,000, up from less than €20,000.
Healy added: “Existing wind farms were developed under support schemes and relied on the fixed price offering for electricity generated as being sufficient to cover all reasonable costs. Projects achieved bank approval on that basis and have contributed enormously to the task of reducing emissions, securing energy, creating employment and supporting communities.
“Now the state, through its Valuation Office, has decided to hugely increase the tax level on those same projects. This is an indirect form of retrospective change. Indeed the increased tax may in some cases exceed the total support paid under the department’s support scheme, which defeats the whole purpose.
“The wind sector is keen to pay commercial rates, but rates that are reasonable and at a level similar to all other generators.”
Eirgrid chief executive Mark Foley told the IWFA’s annual workshop that the government wants to see at least 70% of all electricity used in Ireland coming from renewable sources. “We may be witnessing one of the greatest movements of this century,” said Foley. “The government really gets it and the government seems to be up for creating the right vision and the right policy content.”
According to the Irish Wind Energy Association, wind provided 37% of Ireland’s electricity in Q1 2019, or 2.8 million MWh. The total installed capacity of Ireland’s wind farms is estimated at 3,700 MW.
Photo: Grattan Healy (left) and Mark Foley. (Pic: Jeff Harvey)