Let’s rein in state tax and ratepayer subsidies of industrial wind projects.
Just looking at state data, the piece by Lisa Hagen and Joel Senick (“Mass. legislators push for renewal of expiring wind energy credits,” Sunday Telegram, Oct. 7) left out more than it supplied. Let’s be clear: The “state grants” come from a tax on all residential and commercial electricity ratepayers in Massachusetts. The Renewable Energy Trust accumulates approximately $25 million a year. Then a quasi-public agency gives this money to consultants and wind developers for wind feasibility and noise studies, and design and construction grants.
The MassCEC has given $26 million of ratepayer money to approximately 184 wind projects (based on data from the MassCEC, and its predecessor, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative).
Contrary to what the authors stated, the Berkshire Wind Project did not go forward on its own. The Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative Corporation received a $149,900 grant from the ratepayer tax fund for this project. This “coop” is made up of the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company and 14 municipal light companies in Massachusetts. In addition, the MassCEC guaranteed the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits from the project. So if Berkshire Wind cannot sell its RECs on the open market, the Massachusetts ratepayers and taxpayers will pick up the tab. In addition, because Berkshire Wind is a cooperative, it used eminent domain to obtain a critical piece of privately owned land. The 10-turbine project produces 6/100th of 1 percent of Massachusetts’ total electricity demand.
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