Tax Breaks & Subsidies or New Hampshire
Last week came news that Fish and Game and the Appalachian Mountain Club had agreed not to contest the mitigation package proposed to make up for the wetlands and 58 acres of high country that will be affected by the roads and towers.
This was a sorry day for New Hampshire's conservation community and is probably another good reason for circumventing the state's permitting procedure and instead moving to the federal level, the Army Corps of Engineers.
Last week, the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee (LBA) quietly approved $100 million in taxpayer money to be used for a collection of renewable energy projects funded through the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA). Shockingly, lawmakers approved the money just hours after the Division of Legislative Audit released a report that raised serious questions about AEA's due diligence in determining the economic viability of these speculative projects.
The report found that four out the five randomly selected energy projects they reviewed showed "there is a higher than necessary risk that the projects will not be successful."
If all goes to an outside developer's plan, hikers on the Cohos Trail, and just about anyone else visiting the vast Phillips Brook and Nash Stream tracts, will soon be looking at a string of horizon-dominating 400-foot wind towers, supported by a massive construction and support infrastructure (i.e., roads and concrete bases), along the ridgelines of one of New Hampshire's last great wild places. ...this proposal is an abomination, the selling of a priceless resource for little or no direct return, a hop-on-the-bandwagon case of bad supposedly "green" decision-making if ever there was one.
While we all want a future that includes renewable energy sources, such as wood, wind and solar, we continue to face many challenges. Capital for many of these projects has been reduced or eliminated as a result of our deepening economic problems, and time lines for siting and permitting renewable energy projects can take up to seven years.
This should not be an excuse to stop the charge to create new renewable energy, but it should cause alarm for decision makers considering policies that undermine the effort to clean up our existing power plants -- or worse, shut them down.
Green energy has been on the subsidy take for years, including in 2005 when Mr. Delahunt was calling for "an Apollo project for alternative energy sources, for hybrid engines, for biodiesel, for wind and solar and everything else." The reality is that all such projects are only commercially viable because of political patronage.
Tufts economist Gilbert Metcalf ran the numbers and found that the effective tax rate for wind is minus-163.8%. In other words, every dollar a wind firm spends is subsidized to the tune of 64 cents from the government.
Babcock and Brown Wind is formally cutting its ties with the Babcock and Brown funeral procession but the spirit of the financial engineers still blows hard through the wind farm owner - and perhaps not to the benefit of shareholders.
...BBW's rationale for putting its best wind farms up for sale last year was bemusing from the start. Basically the management would have shareholders believe they were ''selling the farm to prove the farm was worth owning''. BBW phrased it slightly differently, saying it was out to ''demonstrate and capture value''.
To be kind, efforts at the federal level to promote alternative energy have been less than stellar.
So what is it that makes Sen. Shaheen so optimistic? It may be that her call for energy diversity and green power is being reflected in speeches by New Hampshire's governor, John Lynch, and President-elect Barack Obama.
But the simple fact that all three are reading from the same playbook assures nothing. Nothing that is except higher energy prices, at least for the foreseeable future.
Must we destroy the environment in order to save it? In the province of Ontario, the answer seems to be "yes."
This month, the Liberal provincial government of Dalton McGuinty will finish drafting its proposed Green Energy Act. The Act's early drafts call for a big increase in renewable energy production in Ontario. Sounds nice! How do we get there?
The plan contains two big elements: (1) a huge cash giveaway and (2) a brusque slap-down of local democracy.
The current fiscal catastrophe in Nevada is being further damaged by the governor's office, which has given carte blanche to alternative wind energy limited liability companies to move into Nevada and game the tax credit system and then to follow tax subsidies that are solely funded by taxpayer money.
There isn't much doubt that Congress and incoming President Barack Obama will try to impose some kind of limits on carbon emissions. The Republicans, girding in opposition, are denouncing global warming as a fraud, and claiming that either a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system will impose an unacceptable burden on the economy. ...Wind generation is the prime example of what can go wrong when the government decides to pick winners. The idea that it can replace significant quantities of coal or natural gas in electrical generation is a fantasy.
The domestic auto industry isn't the only uncompetitive industry that seems to require life-sustaining transfusions of government cash to stay in business. Alternative energy sources have relied on such subsidies, called "investments," for years.
Yet in President-elect Obama's announcement of his energy team, we were told "the foundations of our energy independence" lie in "the power of wind and solar." ...After decades of tax credits and subsidies, wind provides only about 1% of our electricity. By comparison, coal provides 49%, natural gas 22%, nuclear power 19% and hydroelectric 7%.
While being aware of how little energy wind turbines develop, I would have more time for their claims if they would cut the cant about global warming, saving the world through reduction of CO2 etc, and come out into the open and tell us how much profit these machines collect from the subsidy we all pay.
Let developers tell us just how much profit they are making and, while developing this theme, perhaps the British Wind Energy Authority would also like to make a statement on this, that is if it can keep off the "we are saving the world" statements and "global warming being a greater threat than terrorism".
Once a booming industry thanks to sky-high oil prices, the feel-good trend, carbon reduction and subsidies, the financial crisis has pushed investors to give up on green energies, and like the dot-com bubble of 2000, some analysts say it's about to burst. ..."I think economic reality will kill the green industry," said Mr. Buckee, who now lives in Britain and lectures on climate change.
Solar energy isn't alone in its woes. Wind, biomass, biofuel and other "clean-tech" companies are getting pasted too as the financial crisis sends investors fleeing from technology names, dries up credit and freezes the IPO market.
The likes of wind farms and other similar ventures have always been seen as more of a headline grabber in the UK rather than a real alternative for the future. The authorities have given minimal tax incentives for companies to get involved and there have even been complications with getting them connected to the national grid. All in all the alternative energy market has been launched and re-launched on many occasions but it is just not working.
[W]e are being urged to support the construction of massive wind turbine farms all over this country. Why are these developers so eager to build these massive inefficient industrial complexes? Because our state and federal government are offering lucrative tax incentives to build them. Where do you suppose this money will come from? The taxpayers.
These international companies hire public relations firms to market their product. They love to use buzzwords such as: green energy, renewable energy, carbon exchange, global warming, etc., to lure you into thinking wind turbines are the answer to our energy needs.
Wind power and other renewables have their place in the energy mix. But since the federal subsidies for wind farms are so large, it's unclear Texas needs to provide additional incentives.
These funds could be better used to raise teacher salaries and otherwise upgrade the quality of public education across the state. Removing or reducing the state incentives for wind generators will not by itself solve the education crisis in Texas, but it would be a step in the right direction.
Gradually, the message is beginning to sink in. With wind farms already growing in unpopularity, people are now waking up to the gigantic scale of the rip-off being perpetrated. As more and more people begin to understand this, it should only be a matter of time before the whole programme crashes and burns.
But, there is one minor problem ... wind energy is an EU-supported obsession. To stop the scam, we have to confront the EU. Is there a politician brave enough to do this?
Creating a welfare-dependent industry in the province may benefit the backers of these projects, but the potential cost to taxpayers is huge, and the outlook for an unsubsidized industry is grim. ...The wind power industry in Canada gets a federal government subsidy of $10 per megawatt hour.
But B.C. consumers can expect to dig deeper.
The cost of electricity from wind power is about $71 per megawatt hour. That compares to about $48 for natural gas and $25 for electricity produced from B.C.'s heritage hydro assets.