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Lawmakers hope to extend sales tax rebate for green energy developers  

Credit:  Ben Botkin, Times-News writer, www.magicvalley.com 11 March 2011 ~~

BOISE – Renewable energy developers may end up with a few more years to build projects without paying sales taxes on equipment.

The bill, introduced in the House Revenue and Taxation Committee on Thursday, would extend the rebate of the state’s 6 percent sales tax on equipment used for renewable energy projects until Dec. 31, 2014.

The rebate was first passed by the Legislature in 2005; without the bill passing the rebate is set to expire June 30.

Wind developers have said the rebate is needed so they can be competitive with companies from neighboring states that either already offer tax breaks or don’t have a sales tax.

Long-term plans for expansion, including Exergy Development Group’s project in the Magic Valley, have been on hold as developers wait to see what will become of existing rebate.

To get the rebate, a project will need to be producing energy by Dec. 31, 2014.

“I think what this bill does is it tries to say, ‘Ok people, those of you who will get to work and build out and start producing energy by December 2014 will continue,’” said Rep. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot and chairman of the House committee. “After that, you’re on your own.”

Because of the deadline for project completion, the bill’s extension is “basically for projects that have already been identified,” said Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, the bill’s sponsor.

Committee member Rep. Leon Smith, R-Twin Falls, said he’ll have some questions about the length of the extension in the legislation.

Others were less supportive.

Rep. Lenore Hardy Barrett, R-Challis, noted that the law has reached its sunset only to see another effort at extending it.

“Here we are at sunset time,” she said. “I don’t know why we bother to sunset anything. We never do.”

Source:  Ben Botkin, Times-News writer, www.magicvalley.com 11 March 2011

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