Articles filed under Taxes & Subsidies from New Hampshire
The Tuttle Hill project has stirred up some controversy in town. After disagreement among officials on the plan, the company and selectmen petitioned the state's Site Evaluation Committee - a group made up of members from various state agencies - to take control of the project to decide if and how it can move forward.
The government support - which includes loan guarantees, cash grants and contracts that require electric customers to pay higher rates - largely eliminated the risk to the private investors and almost guaranteed them large profits for years to come. The beneficiaries include financial firms like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, conglomerates like General Electric, utilities like Exelon and NRG - even Google.
Granite Reliable's wind farm is not proven, and Granite Reliable is a limited liability company, which provides broad investor protection if the company goes down. What is the justification for risking $135 million in public money, especially on a company with access to so much private cash? Apparently, the justification is that Obama likes "green power" and wants to associate himself with it.
Attorneys for the two sides negotiated a settlement that reduced the tax assessment for 2009, 2010 and 2011 from $48 million to $44 million. The two sides agreed that the assessment for 2012 through 2014 would be $40 million.
The state renewable energy law that made it feasible for controversial new "wind parks'' will also cost New Hampshire consumers in higher electricity bills. They may pay $2 billion by the year 2025 under the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) -- an extra $5 a month, a University of New Hampshire study concludes. But these are just estimates. The state's consumer advocate and utility companies say there really is no way at this point to figure the actual cost.
After a week that smoothed the path for a proposed Coos County wind farm, a state attorney is asking for closer scrutiny of its financing. Peter Roth, a senior assistant attorney general, has asked the state Site Evaluation Committee to suspend hearings to license the construction of 33 wind turbines along forested ridgelines. He said Granite Reliable Power has not shown it can pay for the $275 million project, a claim rebutted by an attorney for the company.
Public Service of New Hampshire may not be happy with Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative legislation that’s making its way through the Legislature, but the utility won’t actively oppose it, says Gary Long, president and chief operating officer. In an interview with New Hampshire Business Review, Long said PSNH “didn’t oppose what went through the House,” even though the company had major concerns with the bill that would set a regional cap on carbon emissions and force utilities to bid in an open auction to obtain allowances to emit carbons. Long said he was concerned that the free-market model proposed for the carbon allowances might drive up electric rates.
The New Hampshire House's passage of a renewable energy bill April 5 might spur even more wood-fired power plant projects, such as Public Service of New Hampshire's 50-megawatt facility at Schiller Station in Portsmouth and several projects recently proposed in the North Country. One of those North Country projects involves Laidlaw Ecopower, which hopes to buy the mothballed 11-story boiler in the former Fraser Papers mill in Berlin and construct a 50-megawatt wood-chip-burning power plant around it. The other, proposed by North Country Renewable Energy, involves plans for a similar renewable energy park in Northumberland that would make ethanol from wood chips and operate a biomass power plant in the 45- to 75-megawatt range.
BETHLEHEM, NH - Alternative energy facilities, such as the Pinetree Power plant that operates on Route 116, and has for the past 20 years, are watching House Bill 873 closely this legislative session. The bill will require power companies that sell directly to consumers to purchase power from renewable energy producers such as Pinetree, which turns wood chips into power, thereby stabilizing their future in the energy marketplace in New Hampshire, said Mark Driscoll, the Pinetree plant manager. The bill will also encourage other renewable energy producers such as those planning an energy park in the town of Northumberland, to move forward with their plans, said state legislators who are sponsoring the bill in Concord. And the bill promises to improve the environment and public health at the same time by encouraging more "green" power sources and making sure producers install the latest emissions controls.
A lot of regulatory issues had to be settled, including the decision by Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire that the switch to wood counted as a renewable energy project. This was vital because it allows the Northern Wood Project to earn Renewable Energy Certificates, or RECs. Those certificates can be bought and sold like shares, and are a major incentive for alternative energy projects, such as the proposed Lempster Wind Farm north of Keene. “We probably would not have proposed, nor won approval for this, unless the REC market existed,” said Martin Murray, PSNH spokesman.
For wind developers, the Production Tax Credit (PTC) can either make or break a project. In Lempster, New Hampshire, the timely development of a 24-megawatt (MW) wind farm hinges on the probability of it coming online before December 31, 2007, when the PTC expires. Because a comprehensive review of the project was approved by the New Hampshire site evaluation committee, it could take Community Energy Inc. — the developer overseeing the Lempster wind farm — up to nine months to start construction. And if the PTC is not renewed before the expiration date, there’s a chance the project could stall for much longer.