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Duke Resolves Wyoming Wind Farms Property Tax Appeal

Source: www.gulfoilandgas.com 1/24/2011, Location: North America

Duke Energy has reached a settlement with the Wyoming Department of Revenue on the company's 2010 property tax valuation appeal.

The settlement, approved in December 2010 by then-Governor David Freudenthal and the Wyoming Department of Revenue, reflects adjustments to the state's assessed values assigned to Duke Energy's four Wyoming wind farms as of Dec. 31, 2009.

The most significant change involves the state's assessed value of Duke Energy's Top of the World Windpower Project, near Casper. In its appeal, Duke Energy contended that wind turbines ordered for the 200-megawatt (MW) project but not yet delivered as of Dec. 31, 2009, should not have been included in the company's property tax assessment. Because the Top of the World project was built and put into commercial operation in 2010, Duke Energy will instead pay property tax on the assessed value of these turbines as part of its 2011 tax bill (covering calendar year 2010).

The Wyoming Department of Revenue also slightly reduced the assessed value of Duke Energy's 29-MW Happy Jack and 42-MW Silver Sage wind farms in Cheyenne, and its 99-MW Campbell Hill site near Casper. The state agreed to exclude from the 2010 property tax valuation funds set aside by Duke Energy to meet its asset retirement obligations (the costs of decommissioning at the end of each wind farm's projected life span).

This resolves Duke Energy's appeals of the 2010 property tax assessments for its Wyoming wind farms, covering assets in the state as of Dec. 31, 2009. Duke Energy's projects will pay an aggregate of $2.54 million to cover the 2010 tax assessments, instead of $2.77 million, which was based on the state's original assessments.

In 2011, the company and the Wyoming Department of Revenue will continue their dialogue on wind farm property tax assessments, including which intangible assets should be factored into the valuations.

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