Tax Breaks & Subsidies
Just about everyone else who has had cash carried by wind project developers rubbed under their nose, the county Legislature can't resist the bitter but alluring smell of lucre.
In fact, I've got a tip for NYPA chief Richie Kessel: all you'll have to do to make this opposition melt away is to propose a PILOT payment agreement for any offshore wind farm that is proposed.
Poor wind farmers, they say if they are taxed it will kill their industry. I say so be it, let it wither and die, the wind industry is so heavily subsidized that it cannot stand on its own.
We do not have state income tax, because oil, gas, and coal pay so much in taxes. Wind energy equals higher taxes, does that make anyone feel better?
This letter was submitted to the Cape Cod Times newspaper in response to the report claiming the Cape Wind project will save $4.6 billion in costs to New England over 25 years of operation.
As much as we tout the importance of government support for the fledgling renewable energy industries like wind and solar, recent revelations in Oregon point out how these can get out of hand, and become a mess, fast.
I would like to "thank" Jefferson County legislators for opening the door to the big wind companies' invasion of Jefferson County. They are allowing these companies to come into our communities to destroy our life, our health and our homes.
All legislators should have done their homework on the wind issue.
Thanks to the Enron scandal, most of the great titles -- "Conspiracy of Fools" comes to mind -- for the tell-all book about the BETC debacle already have been hijacked.
But while we await the final verdict on these massively inefficient tax breaks, the preliminary conclusions are clear:
No one is particularly sorry.
No one is responsible.
And no one is taking the fall.
Wind developers are here because they can make money. Right now, thanks to tax incentives and public policy, wind power is profitable in New York state. We have exactly what the wind farm investors need... They have fewer choices than they might want us to believe, and for every deal we lose, another will come to take its place.
If wind farms are coming, or at least prospective wind farm developers, we need to be ready for them and reap the benefits on our terms. To them, it's just money. To us, it's our home.
The irresponsible decision by the Jefferson County Legislature approving a tax abatement plan for the Galloo Island Wind Farm leaves unresolved several issues that will bedevil the county for years to come.
A last-minute offer of another $3.5 million in community benefits by Upstate NY Power Corp. sweetened the deal sufficiently to win the eight votes needed for county approval of a 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan for the project. But that does not end the dispute.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty struck a green electricity deal -- allegedly the biggest of its kind in the world -- that will transmit a subsidy worth as much as $10-billion into the hands of a Korean state enterprise and corporate giant Samsung.
The subsidy means that over the next 25 years Ontario electricity users will pay 50% more for the wind and solar electricity produced under the Samsung deal than they would buying the same power from conventional sources.
Friends and neighbors, I write as a Clarendon resident, and not in my role as Select Board chairman. The people of Clarendon and the towns surrounding it are trying to understand what the Vermont Community Wind Farm project is all about. What will it mean for us? What impacts will it have on us? Why here and now?
What has brought trouble to our town's doorstep is "easy" money.
As I was catching up on a large backlog of articles from December, I ran across one from the New York Times that dovetailed with my thoughts about trends to watch this year. It concerned the difficulties being experienced by US green energy companies, particularly relative to competitors operating in countries with more generous subsidies for renewable energy manufacturing and deployment. Instead of becoming progressively less dependent on help from the government, many of these firms are even more reliant on aid.
The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency must now accomplish what it was asked to do in the first place: draft a uniform policy for payments in lieu of taxes by wind developers.
That was the directive originally given by the county Legislature. Instead the JCIDA presented a proposed PILOT on behalf of Upstate NY Power Corp. to accommodate construction of its wind farm on Galloo Island.
Once these wind farms are established, they will forever change the Great Lakes, and not for the better. The minimal amount of power produced will go downstate, or haven't you noticed all the major power lines go south. The millions of taxpayer stimulus money will go to foreign investors like Iberdola. There is excess hydropower already in NNY, and more research should be done to improve existing hydro. We should be looking at all other types of renewable energy.
I do agree that "those" windmills are not contributing to our demand for Mideast oil or to "wild-eyed killers" simply because the percentage of electricity produced in the United States by oil is in the single digits. The production of electricity with the power of the wind has no relevance to oil.
Before using rural taxpayer dollars to help Wall Street bankers, the county and JCIDA need to do more work. At a minimum we must ensure 1)that we get the best economic deal possible; 2)that the project complies with the law; 3)that the developer won't use eminent domain to seize our neighbors' property; 4)that we minimize the negative impacts to property values and waterfront communities, and 5)that we consider the alternatives to this type of industrial development.
Sen. Jane Kitchel led an initiative to insert a special $200,000 appropriation in the most recent state budget. The money will be spent to hire special appraisers to update the value of the TransCanada dams on the Connecticut and Deerfield Rivers. ...It's another example of an interesting double standard in the Vermont legislature.
The momentum to ram through a property tax break for the developers of the Galloo Island Wind Farm has slowed down to allow for more public consideration and a broader understanding of what is at stake in the proposed giveaway of tens of millions of dollars. ...The school district and town without raising any questions unanimously agreed to a plan that ...is less than half of what they could expect annually for the next 20 years if the project were fully assessed.
At a public hearing on the Galloo Island Wind Farm payment-in-lieu-of-taxes deal, no one from the town of Hounsfield raised a voice in support of or in opposition to a plan that will bring $2.14 million annually to the county, town, Sackets Harbor Central School and Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency. You have to wonder why. ...Add it all up, and you can see just how much this "private sector" developer will rely on federal, state and local taxpayers to permit him to make profits. Especially galling is the extent to which local officials, especially the IDA, are doling out hard-won tax dollars to bring, at best, a handful of jobs to the region, and a short-lived flurry of construction money.
Jefferson County homeowners, dairy farmers and small businesses will pay the price in higher taxes to subsidize tax breaks for developers of the Galloo Island Wind Farm under the terms of a tax agreement worked out with the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency. ...It's a lousy deal for taxpayers, and it gets worse.
PILOTs and other preferential treatment for developers are meant to foster job growth, but the wind farm will generate a handful of permanent jobs beyond the short-term construction work.
At a public hearing on the Galloo Island Wind Farm payment in lieu of taxes deal, no one from the town of Hounsfield raised a voice in support of or in opposition to a plan that will bring $2.14 million annually to the county, town, Sackets Harbor Central School and Jefferson County IDA. You have to wonder why.
The deal, after all, will give the wind farm an 85 percent break on taxes that would be due without the PILOT. On an assessment of $400 million (the project will cost at least $500 million to build), from a total property tax bill of $14.52 million, the school district alone would receive $8.9 million dollars a year.