If you’ve ever read any of DTE’s articles on wind energy, you’ve probably seen something like this: “local communities that host wind parks see substantial benefits in the form of local tax revenue.” But what does that really mean? What benefits are the communities receiving?
To learn more about the impact of our wind parks on local communities, I met with Jim Wheeler, the President of Greater Gratiot Development, Inc. (GGDI), a non-profit organization that coordinates economic development in Gratiot County.
“Renewable energy is a polarizing topic – you have a handful of folks that love it and a handful that hate it,” said Jim. “But a lot of them just don’t have an understanding of the property taxes that are actually paid by wind projects. That’s why we track these taxes each year; it gives perspective to people in the community.”
Gratiot County currently hosts five wind parks, three of which are part of DTE’s renewable energy generation portfolio: Gratiot County Wind, Pine River Wind, and Polaris Wind. Brought online in 2020, Polaris alone has generated a total of $4.5 million in tax revenue for Gratiot County in just two years. GGDI recently awarded DTE with their Industrial Investment Award because of Polaris’s impact.
“Polaris is a big project with a significant amount of tax revenue,” said Jim. “These taxes get dispersed throughout our county, benefitting local school districts, libraries, police departments, county parks, roads, and even the local government. Where some counties are looking at cutbacks, we haven’t had to do that. It’s an improvement to the overall quality of life for the county and the people who live in it.”
Wind projects also benefit Gratiot County in other ways. In total, the county’s wind parks have provided approximately 300 temporary skilled construction jobs per park and 38 permanent full-time maintenance jobs. Additionally, lease payments bring extra income to about 500 property owners.
“We’re thankful for DTE’s commitment to our county,” said Jim. “The benefits are innumerable. As we near the end of wind development, our next step is to look at solar. That’s the next frontier.”
Want to learn more? Check out the Gratiot County wind story: Wind/Alternative Energy | Greater Gratiot Development Inc