Library filed under Taxes & Subsidies from Maine
Franklin County commissioners unanimously approved amending the county’s tax increment financing agreement with TransCanada Maine Wind Development to capture more tax money that can be used for economic development within the Unorganized Territory.
“I tried to negotiate in good faith with Democrats to reach a compromise that would not add to the burden of ratepayers,” LePage wrote. “I requested that the bill include all renewables, return all renewable energy credits (RECs) to ratepayers and have a cap on the price we pay in long-term contracts. We could not reach an agreement. They are not serious about reducing the price of energy for Maine families or job creators.”
Pennies on the dollar are what some legislative policies cost the average ratepayer. Most people don’t worry about those pennies, but I am not one of those people. I believe that if you watch your pennies, they add up to dimes and eventually to dollars. Those pennies have added up, resulting in Maine having one of the highest electric rates in the country. The last two bills we worked on this year are classic examples of policies that, although well-intentioned, are costly and will likely do nothing to lower energy costs, never mind decrease our tax burden.
A proposed law aimed at saving the state’s ailing biomass energy plants is filled with language about electricity contracts and the benefits of renewable power, but it’s really about jobs – and who stands to lose or keep them.
The production tax credit has rarely been considered in the House or Senate as a stand-alone vote. The last time was 2012, in New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez’s amendment to the transportation bill. It failed. If the Senate and House consider the wind production tax credit in the eleventh hour (again) this year, it must be as a stand-alone vote in each chamber. That way, the wind lobby cannot gain a free ride by attaching to the more beneficial tax credits seen as “must pass.”
She said the cost of one form of subsidy, called net metering, is expected to double in National Grid’s service area from $35 million in 2014 to $71 million this year. She said the cost of solar renewable energy credits is expected to rise from $59 million in 2015 to $228 million this year. She estimated the cost of solar subsidies will be borne by the utility’s non-solar customers over the next six years to the tune of $2 billion.
Karen Bessey Pease, a resident of Lexington Township, urged commissioners to reject the TIF proposal, saying that First Wind had already proved their financial capacity to the state and that there was no need to return taxpayer money to the company. “I realize that First Wind has received their permit to build the Bingham Wind Project, but as a resident and taxpayer in the unorganized territory, I would prefer that you don’t return any money to this developer.”
“If we don’t have a TIF, the state would tax the project and the property and use that money for the state,” said Lloyd Trafton, the county commissioner who represents the unorganized territories. “With the TIF, the state still collects the tax, but they have to return it to Somerset County.” Creation of the district would be subject to approval by the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development
And now with Maine’s southern neighbors halting industrial wind in their states, they’re paying to build thousands of turbines in Maine, to devastate every magnificent Maine ridge, pinnacle and mountain with howling machines more than 50 stories high, some so tall they’ll be the third-tallest structures in New England.
"The environmental effects … will primarily accrue to the citizens of sparsely populated Aroostook County, certain parts of Canada's Maritime Provinces, and the Atlantic Ocean," regulators said in their decision to approve the contracts. On the electricity from Maine: "Because of transmission limitations, it appears that the electricity generated by this project will remain exclusively or largely in Maine and not be delivered to Connecticut or elsewhere outside of Maine," regulators said.
When a proposal to get the state's electric ratepayers to pay higher-than-market prices for power from an experimental offshore wind project comes sealed from public view, it's natural to wonder why. That the proposal comes from a partnership involving the University of Maine, a taxpayer-funded institution, makes it even more curious. The public deserves to know what it may be buying, and competitors need to know that the process is fair.
Maine's six major wind-energy projects are generating power at about a quarter of their capacity -- a performance level that illustrates why wind-power developers are pushing Congress to extend the tax breaks that are critical to the industry's survival. While that power output may seem low, it reflects regional wind conditions and technology limitations.
In the case of Record Hill, the report says, the turbine technology used by the company wasn't truly innovative -- and thus did not meet one of the criteria for obtaining a loan guarantee. The report also said that other investment by the wealthy Yale University Endowment meant a federal loan guarantee really wasn't needed.
King's company applied for the loan guarantee under an ‘innovative technology' grant. The report shows that King's technology was not, in fact, innovative- it has been widely used commercially before the Record Hill project.
In Tuesday's report, the congressional committee questioned whether the technology employed in the Record Hill project was sufficiently innovative to qualify for loan guarantees, and whether loan guarantees were even necessary given the strong credit rating of Yale University, one of the project partners.
The Energy Information Agency of the Department of Energy published figures in August 2011 showing that for the fiscal year 2010, the federal subsidies were as follows: Hydro received 1.8 percent of the federal subsidies for renewable energy; nuclear received 21 percent; coal received 10 percent and wind a whopping 42 percent.
Spanish consumers were allowed to run up that debt because previous administrations agreed that utilities should book more revenue than they were permitted to collect. The gap accelerated during the last five years, swollen by subsidies added to power bills to support renewable power plants, energy efficiency projects and domestic coal mines.
The effect of the turbines on EPS meant that the full extent of the tax break from the Beaver Ridge development would last only until the state assessments caught up. After that, Freedom would most likely be asked to shoulder a larger portion of the local school district's operating costs, cutting into the tax break for residents.
The Maine Public Utility Commission's analysis showed that the first two years of the increased renewable energy mandate added $7 million to Maine ratepayer's electric bills. Rather than continue the automatic increases to the renewable energy source mandate, we think there is a better approach by allowing consumer choice while still supporting renewable energy development.
Will Freedom get the tax relief it has wanted all along? What will happen to our taxes next year when, for the first time, the turbine values are added to the school district assessment, increasing Freedom's share of the school budget, while reducing state aid to education? The answers are painfully obvious.