Tax Breaks & Subsidies
Future development of Canada‘s wind energy industry could be adversely affected if the federal government doesn‘t proceed with expansion of a production incentive program, the president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association said Wednesday.
If the company fails to win the tax credits, the power purchase agreement allows the company to raise the rate in the first year above the 18.7 cent rate, he said. Depending on what happens, that first year rate could go as high as 21.2 cents per kilowatt-hour.
The contract also allows for the cost of the power to rise by 3.5 percent per year.
After more than five months of negotiations, the state's largest electric utility has agreed to buy half the power generated by what could be the country's first offshore wind farm.
Under the deal, National Grid will pay 20.7 cents per kilowatt hour for the power from the 130 turbines that Cape Wind Associates LLC wants to build in Nantucket Sound and for renewable energy credits associated with the project.
National Grid estimated a small grocery store or medium-sized restaurant will see electric bills rise by about $100 per month. A typical supermarket will pay about $500 more while a medium-size suburban hospital would see a $2,500 jump in its bills.
Large industrial businesses would get hit the hardest.
The department said that with the multibillion dollar loan program's September expiration date approaching, remaining funds would be used on projects whose applications were further along.
"This is not a statement about the quality of your project, but simply about its readiness to proceed at this time."
Robert Rio, senior vice president at Associated Industries of Massachusetts Inc., said he expects the organization to "add a perspective that is very important to determining the outcome of the proceeding...This is now more transparent, as transparent as it could be."
Rio said the group is looking to fully understand the costs of Cape Wind power "and see if this is the best way to use ratepayer money."
And experts say most of those costs will be passed on to the same consumers who, as rate- and taxpayers, will be paying for the cost of planting the turbines off Nantucket Sound - and footing higher energy bills once the project is running.
"As they say, there are lies, damned lies and statistics," said energy analyst Robert McCullough. "This is a very expensive project."
Consumers will have to pay at least $1.4 billion above market rates for electricity generated by the controversial Cape Wind project, new projections show. ...Now the estimates are in: $700 million to $1 billion extra, even after calculating in so-called "suppression-price savings" provided by National Grid.
Barclays, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, and Swiss Re have all committed themselves to it. Not to mention Leonardo DiCaprio, Dido and Pearl Jam. Carbon neutrality is the latest game in town, and carbon offsets are becoming the "it" commodity.
Buy an airline ticket online, and you're increasingly likely to see this pitch: Add a payment of a few dollars and finance save-the-Earth activities to offset environmental damage caused by your trip.
Travel companies such as British Airways and travel sites Travelocity and Expedia are giving ticket purchasers the chance to at least assuage guilt, and possibly help the planet, by selling so-called offsets to finance green activism. Cost: About $5 and up.
The travel companies pass along the money to a new breed of enterprises -some for-profit, some not -that invest in wind farms, solar energy, energy-efficiency technology or other green projects. They go by names such as Native Energy, Carbon Fund or TerraPass. But for all the good feelings that bubble up for the traveler who makes the donation, controversy nags about their effectiveness and the accountability of some of the enterprises taking money.
GREEN CITY Are you carbon neutral yet? Al Gore says he is. The concert tours for the Rolling Stones, Dave Matthews, and other big acts say they are too. Indeed, going neutral is hot these days as, almost overnight, the fledgling market in carbon offsets has burgeoned into a multimillion-dollar industry.
The method is simple, at least in theory. For a fee, companies will balance, or offset, the greenhouse gases emitted by your car or home by spending money on climate-healing initiatives such as renewable energy, forestation projects, and capturing deleterious gases like methane from farms and landfills.
But the sheer number of offset firms out there is staggering, with hundreds of companies vying for your dollars. And as the industry has exploded in popularity, questions have arisen about its reliability and whether the millions of dollars being spent are really making it to worthwhile projects.
David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, was accused yesterday of running a “brazen” spin operation, after it emerged that his promise of more money for clean energy sources will mean less money for energy-saving projects.
At last month’s Labour conference Mr Miliband announced he was putting £10m into a programme run by the Carbon Trust, a private company established four years ago to involve businesses in fighting global warming.
The grant will be used to get private companies to build wind turbines to generate power. He forecast that the scheme would generate enough electricity to supply 250,000 houses.
A footnote to an accompanying press release from the Environment Department (Defra), however, reveals that the money has come out of the £20m allocated to Defra in the Budget in March - money that was to be invested in energy-saving measures.
Grant recipients say risk-leery bankers have grown more willing to give them money, knowing that renewable developers will quickly get 30 percent of eligible capital costs back ...But the grant program expires this year, so energy developers and lawmakers are pushing Congress to extend it until 2012, though they fear election-year politics and possible cost concerns will be a roadblock.
Mr Rigden, editor of ReNews newsletter, said offshore wind was likely to be “an industry for the next decade rather than this one”.
The Cattaraugus County Legislature will decide Wednesday whether to spend $25,000 on a law firm to help negotiate payments from future wind farm developers within the county.
Several lawmakers have stated they hope to keep the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency from collecting a percentage of a project worth several hundred millions of dollars, and several said they first want to meet with lawyers in person before agreeing to a contract. The requested $50,000 appropriation was halved after the Finance Committee amended the legislation during the initial round of discussion last Wednesday.
In the United States, some wind power developers are beginning to focus on wind farms in other countries. They are frustrated by the wrangling over the U.S. tax credit, which will undoubtedly flare up again by next autumn because the tax credit is due to expire at the end of this year. Wind developers in the United States have also been stymied by the falling price of electricity.
A series of factors -- including increasing demand for wind farms, rising costs for materials and the weakening U.S. dollar -- have driven up construction prices.
At the same time, Northwest dams don't have enough remaining flexibility to supplement and smooth the up and down generation patterns of new wind farms.
Critics have said the wind farm plan would include heavy up-front costs for building the turbines and installing them at sea.
But Jim Lanard, spokesman for Bluewater Wind, said wind power will end up being less expensive than traditional fossil fuels once the government begins taxing emissions.
Wind energy plans have been shrinking in the state, as the industry faces a glut of cheap natural gas resulting from hydrofracking, uncertainty over federal support and dwindling financing.
That boom, however, is on the brink of turning into a bust. As federal government support goes into precipitous decline as time-limited subsidies expire, the clean energy industry is facing a "funding cliff" according to a recent analysis by authors from three leading US think-tanks.