Recently, lobbyists for foreign industrial wind developers testified before House committees to oppose a state tax for industrial scale wind projects on Vermont’s ridgelines. It seems that the “green” they refer to in this pending legislation is not “green” as in energy, but “green” as in “dollars.”
Industrial wind developers are currently reaping massive federal subsidies, saleable green tags, and accelerated depreciation returns. These subsidies return more than two-thirds of a developer’s initial investment. A proposed $90 million project, for example, might expect a return of $60 million to a successful developer.
Wind is a high-risk business – but it is also high yield. The RECs, or “green tags,” attached to large-scale wind projects are valuable to regions that burn fossil fuels for energy. Federal regulators require polluting sources to invest in renewable energy. Investing in renewable power in other regions allows polluting areas to continue burning fossil fuels.
As one legislator suggested, “It is like eating a box of doughnuts and then paying someone else to exercise for you.”
Vermont, currently, is the cleanest state in the nation for electrical power generation. Because we are such a green state, many times the RECs or green tags attached to these projects are left out of agreements between developers and Vermont utilities.
Because the RECs are sold, these facilities do not count as renewable energy sources. This would also appear to mean that under the pending H. 225, these facilities would not be included in the renewable target, which would mean more industrial wind will be required.
Two-thirds of a penny for a kilowatt hour doesn’t seem like a lot when considering a multi-million dollar return. When you compare the cost to communities, the landscape, the environment, and a multi-billion dollar tourist industry, it is peanuts.
Vermont is currently the number one tourist destination in the country. It is number nine in the world. The Northeast Kingdom was recently designated one of only five new National Geographic “geo-tourism” destinations worldwide.
It seems only logical that those taxes should be even higher – especially when weighing the costs.
Let’s hope the Senate doesn’t water this one down and give yet another tax break to the wealthy in this latest new investment scheme.
12 April 2007
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