Wind energy generation is a boon to local governments especially in rural America, according to research released by Moody’s Investors Service this week. The study shows that counties and school districts in sparsely populated areas benefit the most from wind farm revenues. For example, Adair County, Iowa, experienced a 30 percent growth in its tax base as a direct result of wind energy generation, which the county applies to capital improvements. Minnesota allows counties to levy a wind energy production tax instead of property taxes. Jackson County's levy has produced over $2 million. Property tax incentives are offered to large-scale operations through Texas school districts in exchange for local investments. The approach, called a Chapter 313 agreement, has produced $23 billion in investments statewide and $596 million for Webb Consolidated Independent School District alone. Moody’s research also indicates that tax incentives play a leading role in attracting wind farms, noting that states with comparable wind potential can vary widely based on available concessions. Both Oklahoma and Nebraska experienced an upswing in wind capacity additions after implementing tax exemptions and incentives, respectively. The report projects wind installations will continue a strong showing even though the federal production tax credit expired in 2016. Wind power is expected to average $20 to $30 per megawatt hour, keeping the source competitive with rival energy sources. Generation and installation costs continue to decline. Meanwhile, demand for clean energy rises amid state-imposed renewable energy standards and corporate climate goals.

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