Auditor explains solar facility PILOT program


PREBLE COUNTY — County Auditor Lavon Wright recently provided information regarding the discussion of payment in lieu of taxes for two solar farms proposed in Preble County.

According to Wright, there are three kinds of tax levies in the state of Ohio: inside mills, fixed-rate levies, and fixed-sum levies.

Where property tax is exempted, there is no change to the rate of inside mills or fixed rate levies to compensate for the loss of taxable value. The loss results in reductions in revenue for the taxing authorities using those levy types.

However, fixed-sum levies are guaranteed to raise a fixed-sum (dollar amount) of revenue every year. When taxable value is exempted, the revenue raised by a fixed-sum levy, remains stable by increasing the rate of that levy, so the remaining taxpayers pay more to prevent the revenue loss. Typical examples of fixed-sum levies are school district emergency levies and bond levies. Per the Ohio Department of Taxation, Division of Tax Equalization.

When discussing the two proposed Solar Farm Facilities, PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) has been discussed several times.

If a PILOT (commission board granted exemption from taxes) gets put into place, the following dollars are what would be generated from the current application:

•Alamo Solar Project/(Gasper, Washington Townships): Anticipated to have a nameplate generating capacity of 69.9 megawatts. 69.9MW times $9,000 = $629,100 annual payment. Current real estate tax collected is $49,960. (CAUV is currently in place on these properties)

•Angelina Solar Project/(Israel, Dixon Townships): Anticipated to have a nameplate generating capacity of 80 megawatts. 80MW times $9,000 = $720,000 annual payment. Current real estate collected is $41,268 (CAUV is currently in place on these properties as well.)

According to Wright, if the projects go through, (and a PILOT is put into place) the exempted ground the solar panels sit on will not be taxed as Real Estate or Public Utility. However, if there is remaining ground which will not have solar panels on it, that acreage would be taxed at market value.

If there is acreage which would still qualify for CAUV, that acreage would still be taxed with CAUV. The projected properties which could go into a solar project would lose CAUV soil value savings on the ground the panels are on, and would be recouped three years for those acreages.