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Bill limiting tax breaks for wind near military bases signed by Texas governor

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a bill that will limit tax incentives for wind farms built within 25 nautical miles of military aviation facilities in the state.

State Sen. Donna Campbell, the bill's author, said in a statement of intent that "encroaching wind farms around military bases can create adverse conditions that impede operations and create safety risks for pilots and related personnel." She also noted that wind turbines' height and location can affect the altitude of flights and the "abilities for training missions to meet their flight goals," which in turn "poses a serious threat to mission readiness at the state's military aviation installations, increasing the likelihood for base reductions and/or closures."

"The bill prevents taxpayer dollars from being used to subsidize structures that could ultimately have a serious negative impact on the state's economy and threaten the very existence of active military bases and the support they provide local communities," Campbell said.

Under S.B. 277, which was passed by the state Senate in April, a "military aviation facility" is defined as any base, station, fort or camp at which certain Texas or federal military organizations, including the U.S. Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard, conduct fixed wing aviation operations or training. The bill will change part of the tax code so exemptions or abatements no longer will be given for land located wholly or partially in designated reinvestment zones if wind-powered energy devices are installed on the property on or after Sept. 1. New structures or improvements to existing structures on that land will not be eligible for the tax breaks based on the land's value or on the value of the "tangible personal property" located on the land. An exception, however, would be provided for wind projects that have begun construction but are not completed before Sept. 1.

The House of Representatives passed the bill with several changes May 23, but the Senate refused to approve the revised version and a conference committee was formed to reconcile the differences between the two. The committee, which was made up of five state senators and five members of the state House, put forth a new version of the bill, which was approved by both chambers May 29.

The bill Abbott signed into law June 8 stressed that military aviation facilities in Texas are critical to state and national security and are an essential part of the Texas economy. The Texas Military Preparedness Commission found that military installations located in the state produce $136 billion in economic activity each year and directly or indirectly contribute to the existence of almost 900,000 jobs, the bill noted.