Mineral County Commissioner Jerrie Tipton addressed her fellow commissioners and the audience at the Feb. 4 meeting where she discussed Ormat Wild Rose geothermal plant in Gabbs Valley located in Mineral County.
The geothermal plant delivers electricity from the geothermal power plant to Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA). It came online in 2013.
Selling the power to SCPPA at $99 per megawatt hour it will provide energy to more than 22,000 California homes.
Through their press release dated Apr. 29, 2013, Ormat states “the Wild Rose geothermal power plant will continue to provide economic development to Mineral County, Nevada through employment benefits, taxes and community contributions.”
Tipton voiced her opinion as otherwise.
She explained that before going into the property tax abatement hearing that her feeling was “they [Ormat] was going to get the abatement.” Which they did.
She made an argument against it stating that when Mineral County received the application, all the numbers were redacted. The numbers, from Ormat’s application that Mineral County had to look at were not included. At that time, the commissioners had a 30-day period in which to approve or deny.
“We needed to see what State of Nevada’s estimate was before we [the commissioners] could make an informed decision, so we denied it.”
Her second argument is, “I believe that the statute says, “That it [the geothermal plant] benefits the citizens of the county and the State of Nevada.”
She clearly stated, “There is no benefit to the citizens of this county to have that geothermal plant here. From a construction standpoint in Phase I, we had two local dirt people [contracted]. The two hauled material out and material in when they [Ormat] built their witching station and some work on the substation. Together, those two contractors did not get $200,000.When you take off what you know is fuel; wear and tear; tires and equipment – neither contractor made $10,000 apiece. On a $90 million project.”
After allowing that to sink in, Tipton went on to explain, “They [Ormat] were proud to say they have a Mineral County resident that works there. Full time. And if it’s true, he lists his residence as Schurz, Nevada. He actually lives in Fallon so he has 55 miles of paved road and five miles of dirt road and even though he is a Mineral County resident, he pays no property tax – no tax of any kind, so the county gets no benefits on that.”
Ormat’s press release states the opposite. It says, “The project provides quality jobs for Nevadans and affordable renewable energy to Californians, which is a win for everyone.”
Not only is the county not benefiting from the taxes paid on the project, but it must still maintain the roads near the project.
“Since Phase I has been in operation, just in fuel, time and salary, on a blade man that spends 60 percent of his time on that road, has been between $45,000 to $50,000.”
Besides the mystery amount that the county will get from the sales tax abatement, Mineral County also gets between 47 to 49 percent of their annual budget from the consolidated tax, of which sales tax is a large portion.
“In Phase I, the sales tax forgiveness, over a three year period, was $1.8 million that the school district did not get. Think about that. Over a three year period.”
She continued, “You people need to understand that when you give away sales tax, the hit the county takes. I think what will come out of this is probably the county’s 30-day notice won’t start until the State has their projections in place of what the revenue to the county will be.”
An email sent by Independent-News to Ormat in Reno was had not been responded to by press time.