Article

Spanish Fork OKs windmills

Spanish Fork's City Council approved re-wording its zoning ordinance last week to allow wind farms in industrial areas. However, Wasatch Winds company president Tracy Livingston says he can't have a successful wind farm without renewable energy tax credits, even though all 18.9 megawatts of wind power have been purchased by Rocky Mountain Power, formerly Utah Power. And Utah no longer has the tax credits.

Wasatch Winds is moving forward with its project in Spanish Fork, though a state tax credit issue could kill the plans.

Spanish Fork's City Council approved re-wording its zoning ordinance last week to allow wind farms in industrial areas. All that's left is final annexations, and then construction can start on the nine windmills.

However, Wasatch Winds company president Tracy Livingston says he can't have a successful wind farm without renewable energy tax credits, even though all 18.9 megawatts of wind power have been purchased by Rocky Mountain Power, formerly Utah Power. And Utah no longer has the tax credits.

To encourage legislators to revive the credits, Livingston met with the Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee this past week.

"I told them that incentives are necessary to promote wind energy and that our neighboring states have provided incentives and that wind energy has accelerated in those states," he said. "There's a direct correlation in the adoption of state incentives and the wind energy produced in the state."

Tax credits for renewable energy were removed during this year's legislative session. They've been in place since 1980, but sunset every five years. This year,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Wasatch Winds is moving forward with its project in Spanish Fork, though a state tax credit issue could kill the plans.

Spanish Fork's City Council approved re-wording its zoning ordinance last week to allow wind farms in industrial areas. All that's left is final annexations, and then construction can start on the nine windmills.

However, Wasatch Winds company president Tracy Livingston says he can't have a successful wind farm without renewable energy tax credits, even though all 18.9 megawatts of wind power have been purchased by Rocky Mountain Power, formerly Utah Power. And Utah no longer has the tax credits.

To encourage legislators to revive the credits, Livingston met with the Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee this past week.

"I told them that incentives are necessary to promote wind energy and that our neighboring states have provided incentives and that wind energy has accelerated in those states," he said. "There's a direct correlation in the adoption of state incentives and the wind energy produced in the state."

Tax credits for renewable energy were removed during this year's legislative session. They've been in place since 1980, but sunset every five years. This year, the bill -- House Bill 42 -- timed-out in the Senate.

Now, Livingston needs the credits to finish the farm, and fast.

"If it's not soon, we're in as much trouble as if it was done next year. We have six months to know whether the Legislature is going to reinstate the credit or not," he said. He said that he has to have the wind farm working by next year to fulfill the contract.

Rep. Sheryl Allen, R-Bountiful, said that Livingston will wait longer than six months, however.

"It's not a special session issue, but it could be considered again in 2007," Allen said, referring to the 2007 session.

Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, agrees.

"There's a lot of work that needs to be done before there's any consensus on tax reform," he said, noting that it's been in the discussion process for three years.

Livingston said he's already spent a half million dollars, so he'd like the credits to help him this year. He'll need them next year in order to start being profitable.

Allen, who sponsored the legislation in the 2006 session, said that the tax credits were tied to the passing of the flat tax proposal. When the flat tax didn't pass, taxes stayed the same, without a renewable energy tax credit.

Allen said that Wednesday's meeting went well, but that some committee members didn't seem as supportive as she expected.

"They didn't seem to understand the history of tax credits," she said.

The argument before the committee is one stumbling block Livingston never thought he'd have. When Wasatch Winds originally started its project in 2005, the tax credits were in place. In the beginning, the only opposition the company faced was from residents who didn't like the location of the proposed farm.

The Spanish Fork location, at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon, was supposed to be a test site for the company. It wanted to show its unique tower installation method. Now, its first wind farm will actually be in California, created by a sister company, Wind Tower Systems.

If built, the wind farm will be a test for Utah, as the first commercial wind farm in the state. Utah Clean Energy, a energy lobbyist group, hopes legislators will approve a bill to encourage more renewable energy.

"I would like to see the tax credit be reauthorized in the 2007 session," said Sarah Wright, executive director of Utah Clean Energy. "I would like Utah legislators to have a better understanding of Utah energy sources and the role they play in diversifying energy."

Wright offered one idea why people wouldn't be in support of renewable energy.

"Oftentimes people feel that if we develop renewables they might feel threatened by these sources, but in truth our demand is growing. We need all the energy we can get from all sources of energy."

Wright compares diversification to diversifying an investment portfolio. She said that Utah's energy isn't diverse because 95 percent comes from coal.

Despite a lack of tax credits, Livingston said he will continue the progress in Spanish Fork because it's now under contract with Rocky Mountain Power. If he stops, he is automatically losing everything. Instead, he'll take the chance and hope for the credits.

Natalie Evans is can be reached at 344-2561 or nevans@heraldextra.com.

 


Source: http://www.heraldextra.com/...

JUL 25 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/3636-spanish-fork-oks-windmills
back to top