County Commission Discusses Ways To Make Solar, Wind Power at Home More Affordable

Andrew Trzaska | July 29, 2011

As Muskegon County looks to get into the large-scale wind power game, commissioners are also discussing how personal solar and wind devices can be made more affordable locally.

Recently, district 2 commissioner Alan Jager presented an idea to lobby state representatives to pass exemptions to personal property tax rules for building-mounted wind turbines and solar panels.

Jager discussed the math at Tuesday’s full board meeting.

He stated that most panels and turbines have an average life expectancy of 25 years.

However, at the cost and tax rates associated with owning and using them, owners can only regain the money on their investment after 15-20, leaving only a few years more to benefit off their purchase.

This is partially due to the taxes on the devices; once a panel or turbine is attached to a building, it is considered part of the structure and adds to one’s state personal property tax.

Jager asked the county commissioners to unite and try to influence the state legislature to change the tax laws to give more people the incentive to install these types of devices.

“Right now we have no one promoting these things in Muskegon County because no one can afford them.”

District 7 Commissioner Scott Plummer has spoken in support of Jager’s idea.

“In a way it’s like subsidies that the government gives commercial wind farms.”

This is not to be confused with giving tax exemptions to the possible commercial wind farm that may be developed at the Muskegon County Wastewater site in Egelston and Moorland Townships.

Jager’s idea would still keep those intact, as they would be a large source of revenue for Muskegon County.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst