County OKs Big Timber Wind tax abatement

Sweet Grass County Commissioners approved a request by Big Timber Wind for a $1.2 million tax abatement the morning of March 15.

The motion passed 2-to-1 with Commissioners Susie Mosness and Bill Wallace in favor of the abatement and Commissioner Bob Faw against the request.

On Feb. 1, Big Timber Wind’s parent company, BayWa r.e. submitted an application for tax benefits for new and expanding industry. A public hearing was held Tuesday, March 7 at the Sweet Grass County Annex, which drew roughly 30 people, along with two representatives from BayWa r.e., which is German-owned, but has offices in California. 

According to Montana law, new or expanding industries in the state are eligible for a reduced taxable value of up to 50 percent. New and expanding industries are defined as a new corporations engaging in manufacturing for the first time in Montana. The code also states that manufacturing may mean the production of energy by means of an alternative renewable energy source, such as wind.

Big Timber Wind, a wind farm in the developing stages,  is estimated to cost $31 million. Developers requested a reduced taxable value rate of 40 percent for the first five years.

Following the fifth year, the project would increase tax payments each year by 8 percent in value, until the 10th year, 2028, when the project will be taxed at the full 100 percent of its taxable value.

The abatement will allow for $1.2 million in total tax reductions over the first 10 years, but the California company will still be contributing $2.9 million to the county tax base during that time.

BayWa r.e. will be the third-largest taxpayer in Sweet Grass County behind Stillwater Mining Company and NorthWestern Energy.

Faw said he made a motion to deny the abatement because of a Jan. 3 press release he saw on the BayWa r.e. website.

The post said that the company had announced the completion of its third project acquisition of 2016 after it purchased the Greycliff Wind project from National Renewable Solutions and renamed the project Big Timber Wind.

To read the full story, pick up the March 16 edition of the Pioneer or subscribe to our e-edition. Current subscribers are provided complimentary access to the e-edition with registration.

By Olivia Keith / Pioneer Staff Writer