Commissioners finalize wind farm impact fee

Sweet Grass County Commissioners signed a nonrefundable impact fee agreement with Big Timber Wind, LLC Wednesday, March 30.

The 25 megawatt wind farm, located 12 miles east of Big Timber, will pay the county a one-time fee of $465,000 five days prior to the start of construction.

The impact fee is 1.5 percent of the estimated total project cost, $31 million. At the end of the construction phase, the wind farm will be required to “true up” their final costs via sworn affidavit, which will be subject to verification, the agreement states.

If costs were more than the estimation, Big Timber Wind will be required to pay an additional impact fee payment to the county that is equivalent to 1.5 percent of the true-up adjustment, according to the agreement.

An impact fee is a fee that is imposed by the county on a new development project to pay for all or a portion of the costs for providing public services to the new project.

Originally, it was discussed that the impact fee would be paid over the three years — the maximum time span allotted for the fee payment. However, Big Timber Wind project developers recently decided to pay the total sum of $465,000 all at once.

This will allow the schools impacted by the fee, Sweet Grass County High School and Big Timber Grade School, to receive their impact fee funds all at once as well. This will amount to $7,750 per year for three years, or $23,000 in full. This payment is 5 percent of the impact fee the county will be receiving.

For the schools, the money will be put into a non-revenue fund similar to the metal mine’s account they currently have. The county will be required to place the payments in an energy capital fund.

The other rural school that will be eligible for a small percentage of the impact fee is Reed Point Elementary School, however an exact percentage and amount could not be confirmed as of press time.

A discount to the impact fee paid in full was also discussed at a Feb. 7 meeting between commissioners and project developers, but the wind farm has since withdrawn the request for a discount on the full payment. 

Construction on the wind farm is set to begin this spring.


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By Olivia Keith / Pioneer Staff Writer