Articles filed under Taxes & Subsidies from Oregon
A state program that subsidizes green energy projects got trimmed Friday when lawmakers gave final approval to a bill that reduces tax credits for Oregon wind farms. Gov. Ted Kulongoski hasn't decided on the bill. His aide said he doesn't want to roll back Oregon's incentives for alternative energy because they have delivered "tremendous economic returns." At the same time, he recognizes that the state needs all the money it can get in the next two years.
The success of a bill that would slow wind farm development in Oregon seems assured in Salem this week, slowed only by disagreements as to the extent of cuts to the green energy tax subsidy. ...Hunt said the changes would save the state nearly $70 million over the next six years.
Given a chance to put a bill on Gov. Ted Kulongoski's desk that would cut Oregon's generous wind tax credits, the state House of Representatives paused today. Now a bill that would cut Oregon's Business Energy Tax Credits goes to a conference committee.
When the government's $787 billion economic stimulus package became law last month, the Bonneville Power Administration was one of the many beneficiaries. The federal utility wasted no time making use of its share, rolling out plans for a major transmission project ...The project now aims to provide service for 873 megawatts of energy - about 700 megawatts of that from wind power. That wouldn't have been the case seven years ago, he said.
Oregon taxpayers are shelling out tens of millions of dollars to subsidize green energy projects, making the state a magnet for solar and wind companies. But an investigation by The Oregonian shows that the money also is going to risky ventures with questionable environmental benefits and to prosperous companies that need no incentives but are cashing in anyway. ..."It's gotten out of hand," says Chuck Sheketoff, director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy, which studies the impact of state tax policies on low-income residents. "It's being scammed. It's not serving its purpose."
Umatilla and Morrow county residents will get their first look at possible property tax exemptions for wind farms at public meetings Friday. The property tax exemptions are called strategic investment programs, or SIP, and provide an incentive for large capital investments - in this case the Echo wind farm. ...The proposed SIP provides the advantage of a flat tax rate for the companies involved with the wind farm and a stable 15-year funding base for the two counties.
While other Portland greenies and politicians are going gaga for wind power, the former Irvington Elementary School teacher argues the state is throwing away tax breaks to lure windmills that provide few permanent jobs and would locate here anyway. "This is an astounding trick that's being played on taxpayers," said Wiser, volunteer leader of the group Tax Fairness Oregon.
In a public hearing Wednesday, the Morrow County Court approved of a special tax schedule for the Willow Creek Wind Farm, which is building 48 wind turbines in Morrow and Gilliam counties. The program, known as a Strategic Investment Program (SIP), allows the energy company to pay the majority of its property taxes spread out over 15 years rather than the first six, which is the norm under tax schedules. Paul Woodin, the executive director of the community renewable energy association, said that without the SIP, Oregon would be one of the most expensive places to site a wind farm.
Tax breaks and cash rebates have done what the most gung-ho green talk has not: ignited a solar power boom in Oregon. Oregon officials expect the amount of solar power in the state to jump more than eightfold this year as businesses, nonprofits and government agencies install rooftop and ground-mounted photovoltaic systems at record rates. The surge is courtesy of the taxpayer, who foots the bill in this effort to go green. ...Skeptics don't like the size of the subsidies, which are expected to reduce the state budget by almost $96 million annually by 2013 -- money that otherwise would be available for schools, health care and other government-funded services. Besides, they note, even such furious development isn't going to make solar energy a significant part of the state's overall power supplies anytime soon. "It's window dressing," said Jeff King, a senior resource analyst with the Northwest Power and Conservation Council who tracks the region's power supplies and finds solar just a blip.
The Bonneville Power Administration has initiated a rate case to set the price for balancing services for wind generation because of the rising expense of integrating increasingly large amounts of the intermittent resource in its control area. ... The agency must also be able to absorb the highest hour of expected generation because it runs the risk that its existing resources cannot absorb the added energy. In the case of hydro or pumped storage, the agency would have to spill water rather than use it to generate power or use it at a less efficient time. Therefore, the agency will have to assess a sink charge.
Parents saving for college, mobile home owners facing eviction, and businesses that generate or use alternative energy are among the beneficiaries of a wide-ranging tax break bill signed by Gov. Ted Kulongoski on Tuesday......The energy initiative, which ranks as the biggest tax break in the bill, will expand the credit for businesses to build wind farms, use solar or otherwise boost the use of clean energy. Now the credit is 35 percent of costs, with a cap of $3.5 million. The new law increases the credit to 50 percent, with a $10 million cap. It's estimated to cost the state at least $6 million a year by 2009-11.
The most expensive of the tax breaks would reimburse businesses for half the cost of wind farms, biofuel plants and other renewable energy plants or equipment. Deckert said that break will create good jobs and make Oregon more prosperous.
A fortified Oregon business energy tax credit (BETC), which raises the maximum write-off for renewables from 35 percent on $10 million projects to 50 percent on $20 million projects, is all but certain to pass into law as HB 2811 before legislators head home from Salem. But a new BETC won't do businesses much good unless lawmakers also close a loophole that devalues tax credits in years such as 2007, when the state will pay out a business tax kicker. As things stand, the kicker lessens corporate tax burdens and, in turn, eats into the value of the credits for would-be buyers - costly both in millions of dollars to the economy and megawatts gone undeveloped.
VALE - Wind turbines reaching 400 feet into the air are not a normal sight along the high desert plains of Eastern Oregon, but as the federal government continues to provide enticing grant options to entrepreneurs in the state, that form of clean energy technology could become more common locally. One case in point is a recent decision by the United States Department of Agriculture regarding a grant for a feasibility study for a 10 megawatt family wind farm in Vale.
Twenty-five percent renewable power by 2025? Northern Wasco County PUD and some other utilities are saying "not so fast." Gov. Ted Kulongoski's plan to push Oregon to get 25 percent of its power from renewable energy by 2025 could face a vote in the Oregon Senate as early as the end of this week. But members of Northern Wasco County PUD's leadership team say the bill is poorly designed and doesn't consider what it will cost customers, or the bill's impact on economic development. Generally speaking, the new bill would require larger electrical utilities to get 25 percent of their power from renewable energy - wind, wave, biomass, geothermal, etc. - by the year 2025, with intermediate goals set every five years starting in 2010. .............Higher costs can be disastrous for economic stability, Langer said. "Not one business looking at coming here has asked us how green our power is," Langer said. "They want to know about price." Immediate efforts to meet renewable power standards could have a damaging effect on efforts to recruit new business to the community and maintain economic stability, he said. "Baseload resources will best serve our needs now," Langer said. "They will actually save money for our customers later on. Those decisions need to be left with the electrical utilities."
The goal of making Oregon's utilities more environmentally friendly has got the state's largest electricity buyers saying Gov. Ted Kulongoski, legislators and enviros are selling out all ratepayers in an ill-conceived green-wash. At issue is SB 838, which would require utilities to derive 25 percent of sales from renewable sources by 2025. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Brad Avakian (D-Beaverton), fulfills a campaign promise Kulongoski made while struggling to regain support of his disaffected base in last year's re-election campaign. The measure now also has become one of the issues the governor hopes to build into his legacy. In addition to traditional enviros, consumer groups such as OSPIRG, the Citizens' Utility Board and even the watchdog Utility Reform Project which usually look askance at anything that might raise rates, are on board with the legislation. Also supporting the measure, still in the Senate Environmental and Natural Resources Committee, are Oregon's largest utilities-Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp. But the Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities says the bill, while well-intentioned, amounts to a wholesale transfer of wealth from ratepayers to the developers of renewable energy and the utilities.
Rural Columbia River Gorge counties saw plenty of dollar signs when wind farm developers began erecting turbines in their breezy, rural backyards. The investments slapped tens of millions of dollars onto sagging tax rolls and promised to revive budgets for services such as schools, health care and economic development. But the anticipated windfall has suddenly lost some of its heft. A state-level change in the way the projects are valued has worked to pull down assessments, and, in turn, has wiped out hundreds of thousands of property tax dollars that county officials had hoped to pencil into future budgets. “This is very serious for our counties and our taxing districts,” Judge Laura Pryor of Gilliam County wrote in an e-mail newsletter to rural colleagues. “What we have all thought of as an industry of benefit, may not be of much benefit. They don’t provide any jobs and now they may not provide much revenue either!”
The Emerald People's Utility District is ready to invest in wind farms and other renewable energy projects - but first needs a thumbs-up from voters. Measure 20-126 on the Nov. 7 ballot would allow EPUD to enter into multiple contracts for up to 100 megawatts of electricity generated by renewable resources. EPUD already allows customers to buy "green" power that it purchases from other sources of renewable energy. But now the utility is ready to actually invest in renewable energy projects - which can require debt service payments on money borrowed for construction, even if no electricity is ever produced.
The list of qualifying devices includes passive solar space heating, solar water heating, solar thermal electric, photovoltaic, wind, biomass, hydroelectric, fuel cells and alternative energy refueling stations.
Pressure is building for Oregon to require electric utilities to use substantially more renewable energy, such as wind and solar, to power homes and businesses. But a debate looms over whether such a mandate is needed -- or whether it might drive up monthly utility bills.