House committee finally advances renewable energy rebate bill


Idaho may expand a state-federal program designed to have the federal government house more gang-related individuals and ease overcrowding in Idaho prisons.

It looks as if the battle over the merits of a tax credit for renewable energy is nearing an end.

Members of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would give the sales tax rebate to all renewable energy projects until Dec. 31, 2014, but there are additional restrictions for wind and solar projects.  In order to receive the credit, wind and solar projects must have contracts finalized by Oct. 31, 2011.

That provision was put in the bill to allow wind developers with  contracts currently pending before the Idaho Public Utility Commission (PUC) to be eligible for the credit.  According to Roy Eiguren, lobbyist for Exergy Development Group, developers planned projects with the 6 percent sales tax rebate calculated into costs.

According to Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, the sponsor of the bill, there are about 18 wind projects pending before the PUC.

The rebate program has been the subject of at least four public committee meetings and hours of stakeholder discussion.

There may still be some opposition to the bill when it reaches the floor.  Rep. Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly, says the legislation mixes energy and tax policy, which could cause procedural trouble.

Roberts introduced a bill earlier this week that would have completely excluded wind and solar from eligibility for the rebate, but with the approval of Eskridge’s bill, Roberts withdrew his measure.

Roberts says the rebate is designed to give renewable industries a kick-start in the Gem State, an objective he says has been achieved for wind.  He also is concerned about the intermittent nature of wind and solar, meaning that they are not constantly producing energy.

The battle has also raged in the House State Affairs Committee, which considered a two-year moratorium on wind farms.  The measure called for study of the effects of wind energy during the interim.  The measure was killed after two days of hearings.

Eskridge’s bill now heads to the House floor for a vote. Committee Chair Rep. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, has signaled that this legislation is one bill that must be decided before legislators end their work next week.

 

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The measure now heads to the House floor for a vote, The measure now heads to the House floor for a vote
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4 Comments

  1. Connie

    I absolutely CAN NOT believe that this bill was passed!! With the deficit our state has and the cuts that have been made to the Education Programs and the Health and Welfare Programs, they chose to continue to line the pockets of corporate welfare wind developers instead of putting it to use in other programs of value! There needs to be a drastic change in leadership immediately!!!

  2. MR. SLOOT

    Wind will make the State much more than what this rebate will cost. Its also one of few industries that is growing in the State that will generate money. I happen to like what our leadership is doing, along with many others.

  3. Connie

    How could you say that? How could you possibly PROVE that it will make much more than the rebate will cost? Generate money? Give me a break! Or is this just YOUR opinion? They estimate the 4 month extension will come to over 60 Million Dollars!! That is something we could definitely use in our Education Arena!! Wind is not dependable and why we keep throwing money at these huge corporate welfare recipients under the guise of “green energy” is beyond ludicrous and lacking in common sense!

  4. Tauna Christensen

    We need to look at the whole picture when deciding on whether to subsidize this industry and about how much this industry will actually generate or should I say not generate.

    Hopefully, our lawmakers are not basing their decisions off of the Boise State University Economic Study.

    Here are some comments that an independent economist made to me after a quick review of the BSU study:

    1. The study completely ignores the adverse impacts of higher-cost electricity on Idaho electric consumers. My research shows that for each $1 million in additional electric costs, 5-7 jobs are lost per year. Idaho’s electric rates are quite low, given the preponderance of hydro resources. If wind energy is paid a price far higher than the prevailing market price, businesses and consumers will have less money to spend, causing job losses.

    2. The 94 jobs related to wind O&M seems quite high. Typically, on-shore wind projects require about 1.5 employees per 10 MW, so we are talking about 20 employees at the wind project. A “ripple” effect of over 4.5 is unusual, to say the least

    3. The study fails to consider the opportunity cost of the sales tax dollars. In other words, what else could be done with the $$ spent on the wind project.

    4. There is simply no way for this sort of program to be a net “economic winner.” Taxpayers are subsidizing developers through the tax rebate AND the higher prices paid for wind power.

    Those are a few items I note. The study is pretty bad, all in all, because it omits all pertinent details. That is always a bad sign.

    Also, consider this:

    A report from Spain’s Universidad Rey Juan Carlos showed each “green job” that had been added by Spain’s aggressive wind energy program cost Spain nearly $800,000 and resulted in the loss of 2.2 jobs elsewhere in the economy.

    In addition, the capital needed for one green job in Italy could create almost five jobs in the general economy. [from aie.org article below]

    Please see the following reports for more information:

    http://copenhagenconsensus.com/Files/Filer/Articles%202011/CCC_Green_Jobs.pdf

    http://www.aei.org/outlook/101026

    Here is a report by the University of Wyoming that shows that the jobs estimated by the wind industry are exaggerated.

    http://docs.wind-watch.org/WY-wind-wages.pdf

    From Jonathan Lesser’s article titled Gresham’s Law of Green Energy:

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv33n4/regv33n4-3.pdf

    “Industries that require never-ending subsidies simply cannot
    increase overall economic welfare. To conclude otherwise is to
    believe in “free-lunch” economics of the worst kind. Yet, freelunch economics are driving the push for renewable energy.
    The subsidies paid by ratepayers transfer wealth from existing
    generators to a chosen few renewable resource owners…”

    “… Unfortunately, it is politicians who are selecting the winners and losers in the renewables game, and the select few are benefiting at the expense of the many, i.e., the
    ratepayers. This is hardly a recipe for economic growth.”

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