Library filed under Taxes & Subsidies from North Dakota
The wind energy companies argue that the construction is being driven by the markets and demand. A more likely explanation is that there was a rush to build these projects in order to capitalize on a subsidy which was set to expire last year. Wind companies had to break ground on their projects before the end of the year to get in on it. I call it a bubble because that's what inevitably happens when the government creates artificial demand for something with a subsidy. We should build wind farms because they make sense for our energy grid, not to harvest tax dollars.
Currently, all of North Dakota’s wind energy tax revenue stays with counties ...“You heard last session from a number of legislators that thought that wind was getting a free ride,” Brandenburg said. A bill he plans to introduce when the legislative session starts in January would keep two-thirds of wind energy tax revenue in the counties that produce the energy and send one-third to the state general fund.
We all see the hundreds of wind power turbines which dot the beautiful landscape of our region. We're told, by the supporters of these wind farms, that they're a boon to our society. That they're reducing greenhouse gas emissions by providing cheap, reliable energy. Except, this week I spoke with a man from the University of California, Berkeley who says that's a lot of bunk.
The North Dakota State Senate and House Majority Leaders submitted this letter to the North Dakota federal senator, Senator John Hoeven, expressing their concerns with the wind production tax credit and the crushing energy policies of Washington that are destroying traditional energy development while pressing for more renewable energy. A portion of the letter is provided below. The full letter can be accessed by selecting the document links on this page.
A proposal in the North Dakota Legislature would change the allocation of taxes paid by the Courtenay Wind Farm, seen here in October 2016. Local governments would see about 30 percent less than they do now under the proposal. The Courtenay Wind Farm pays about $850,000 per year in taxes.
Cramer was one of 54 members of Congress to sign a letter to House Speaker John Boehner last month arguing that a one-year extension of the PTC would cost taxpayers more than $13 billion. He acknowledged that the PTC’s expiration could mean fewer projects under development right away, but he said the wind industry can “stand on its own.”
The state, often rated as having the greatest wind potential in the nation, now has about 1,400 megawatts of total wind capacity. ...But notices of intent for new wind farms have stalled since last fall and development has slowed in recent months.
Burleigh County's first wind turbine policy is due for a rewrite, just two weeks after it was adopted. County Commissioners sent wording about permit fees back to the county planning commission Monday. Ted Weissman of Nextera Energy said the permit fee structure approved April 5 is very steep compared with other entities' fees.
Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. and Otter Tail Power Co. estimate the current rules could drive up their customers' monthly bills by 18 percent to 30 percent annually. If the problem is not remedied, it could undermine public backing for wind power development in North Dakota, Public Service Commissioner Tony Clark said. The state has more than 700 megawatts of wind generation capacity, with more than 3,000 megawatts of projects planned.
Excuse me if I'm not quite as excited about a cap and trade tax on my electricity as wind enthusiast Joe Richardson is. I believe I'll side with the North Dakota Legislature and the Industrial Commission, who want to see hard-and-fast numbers about what the true cost of a cap and trade tax is to the North Dakota economy.
Separately, Otter Tail seeks to charge customers who will get wind-generated power from its portion of the new Ashtabula Wind Farm a separate fee above the usual rates. ...[the]proposed increase is known as a "renewable resource cost recovery rider 2009." Under state law, utilities are allowed to charge extra for the cost of generating electricity through alternative forms such as wind farms.
Otter Tail Power Co. wants to increase a special charge to electric customers that helps pay for its wind energy projects. ...Otter Tail is asking North Dakota's Public Service Commission to increase the charge, starting Jan. 1. It would raise the payment from $1.45 to $3.83 monthly.
State regulators have agreed to shorten a wind developer's waiting time before it may submit plans to build North Dakota's largest wind energy project. FPL Energy wants to build 133 wind turbines in northern Barnes County in eastern North Dakota. The wind project would generate up to 200 megawatts of electricity and cost an estimated $350 million to build.
Fearful of the possible loss of federal tax breaks, a company is rushing to complete a planned 150-megawatt wind farm in eastern North Dakota that would be financed partly by local investors. "It's going to be tight," said Warren Enyart, secretary of M-Power LLC, of Finley, which is developing the project. "We're scrambling. We're somewhat optimistic, but everything has to fall in place very precisely." The project will include between 58 and 100 wind turbines, depending on the design that is chosen, Enyart said. ..."However, the uncertainty of the federally authorized production tax credits has prompted the utilities to request an accelerated constructions schedule," the letter says. M-Power's goal now is to have the wind farms operational by Dec. 31, when the credits will expire unless Congress extends them, it says.
North Dakota's Public Service Commission rejected Xcel Energy's request to charge a special rate for wind power, saying it was too expensive and could mislead customers about the cost of wind-generated electricity. "Why should people who really support wind have to pay significantly more for that resource than others?" asked Susan Wefald, the PSC's president. Xcel Energy's Windsource program, which it already offers in Minnesota, Colorado and New Mexico, sells wind energy by 100 kilowatt-hour "blocks" to customers who want assurances they are using environmentally friendly power. The Minneapolis utility asked the PSC for permission to charge North Dakota customers a premium of $2.50 per 100 kilowatt-hours for a supply of wind energy. A typical residential customer uses about 750 kwh each month.
Rep. Jon Nelson believes a plan for the dismantling of inactive North Dakota wind farms is comparable to coal mine land reclamation, but the Wolford Republican couldn’t muster enough lawmakers who agreed. The North Dakota House on Friday defeated, 57-34, a bill to give the state Public Service Commission broad power to write rules for the decommissioning of wind farms, including authority to require companies to post a bond to cover the expense. Rep. Mike Brandenburg, R-Edgeley, argued the bill was unnecessary and would add extra cost for an industry that is finding its legs in North Dakota. The American Wind Energy Association rates the state as No. 1 in wind-power generation potential. “At this point in the infancy of these wind generation (projects), this is not the time to put more … burdensome costs that would take us further out of the market,” Brandenburg said.
Xcel Energy, which is planning a wind power marketing initiative in North Dakota, wants to charge too much for the renewable electricity, wind energy development supporters say. State regulators are wondering whether any premium is justified. Xcel’s Windsource program would offer North Dakota customers 100 kilowatt-hour blocks of wind energy for about $3, if they agreed to buy the power for at least one year, utility filings say. North Dakota’s Public Service Commission, which is reviewing the program, held a hearing Wednesday to gather information about its pricing details. The commission regulates electric utilities, and it must approve the special wind energy rate before Xcel Energy can offer it to North Dakota customers.
North Dakotans can’t count on the wind blowing every day, but extending a federal tax credit for five years would put a steady breeze in the sails of the state’s booming wind industry, Rep. Earl Pomeroy said Monday. Pomeroy, D-N.D., visited the DMI Industries manufacturing plant in West Fargo to announce a bipartisan bill to extend the production tax credit for wind and other renewable energy projects until 2014. “This legislation … we think produces a very significant level of stability, providing the assurance that those contemplating moving in this area are going to be able to complete their projects and invest in future projects,” he said.
Economic development officials in Grand Forks and Fargo agreed this week to oppose the City 20/20 renewable energy initiative, which has also come under fire from elected leaders. In a joint resolution, the Grand Forks Region and Greater Fargo Moorhead economic development corporations said they support the growth of the renewable energy industry but prefer that it come about by market forces or federal incentives. "The bottom line for us is we don't think it should be mandated locally," said Grand Forks EDC president Klaus Thiessen.
Tax incentives were put into place in 2005 to help bring in more renewable energy industries, but North Dakota’s tax commissioner says the state needs to do more. Cory Fong announced today that he will be working with the 2007 legislature to introduce a new tax credit. Fong is running for the tax commissioner seat to which he was appointed last year.