Library filed under Taxes & Subsidies from Texas
Timmins detailed the flow of money from the State Energy Conservation Office to the city of Jonestown to CM Energies to Central Texas Plastics and then back to Malouff's company. She said Central Texas Plastics submitted vouchers totaling $965,000 for work and materials but then sent most of the money -- $670,000 in checks -- back to Malouff's company.
Ironically, while taxpayers and utility ratepayers are being hammered coming and going to subsidize alternative energy and efficiency programs, the most reliable and cost-effective energy sources, fossil fuels, are the brunt of both political scorn and proposed tax increases. ...State legislators should press for those answers. We may be surprised at how much we spend for how little we receive.
As the session progresses, renewable energy advocates are bracing to defend critical policies that have helped Texas become the leading wind-power state. The ascendancy of the Tea Party, an abundance of cheap natural gas and tighter budgets have reduced the sway of the wind industry. Solar power advocates anticipate limited gains at best.
"The PTC [production tax credit] is helping projects that are ready to go, that are shovel-ready, but the thing that is hurting the industry is really low gas prices that make it fairly hard to obtain financing," said Jimmy Horn of Horn Wind Energy.
The wind energy industry is dependent on something even more unpredictable than wind: Congress. Hidden in the turmoil over the "fiscal cliff" compromise was a tax credit for wind energy.
Sweetwater Mayor Greg Wortham, executive director of the Texas Wind Energy Clearinghouse, said he was unimpressed by the one-year extension of the tax credit. He estimated 40,000 wind energy jobs have been lost as companies have halted production, not put up turbines across the state and wait to see what Congress does with the tax credit.
Expiration of the credit would have a significant impact on development of about 80 turbines near Petronila in Nueces County, said Patrick Woodson, chief operating officer for Germany-based E.On Climate & Renewables in North America. The company wants to build in 2013.
Some wind experts think the credit extension will ultimately pass Congress, albeit after the November election ...others do not, and the industry is left to bemoan the difficulty of long-term planning. A one-year extension could mean the wrangling resumes next year. Hornaday said that Texas could benefit more than other states from a one-year extension because there are fewer rules here, making wind farms easier to build.
"Federal incentives for renewable energy, I believe, have distorted the competitive wholesale market" on the Texas grid, Nelson told the Senate Natural Resources Committee. Nelson said she believes those distortions are "one of the primary causes" of the current strains on the grid, and added: "I think we all need to move with extreme caution before adopting any additional incentives or mandates."
Many supporters are optimistic that the credit will be renewed, but doubt it will happen before the November election. And a last-minute deal probably won't prevent mass casualties for the U.S. wind power business. "Most of the damage has already been done," said Matt DaPrato, senior analyst for IHS Emerging Energy Research. "There's going to be a big drop-off in 2013 either way."
Texas has a commanding lead over other states in wind power production, as turbines supply 8 percent of the state grid's power. But the looming expiration of a federal tax credit jeopardizes the boom - and Texas' congressional delegation, for the most part, does not appear to be clamoring loudly to save it.
District Superintendent Christina Gutierrez said the school board has opposed tax incentives because economic losses from military cutbacks or closures could outweigh gains from the wind farm. The Kingsville base employed 597 military and 1,224 civilian personnel in 2010.
EC&R Development is proposing the construction of a wind power electric generation facility in Nueces County Texas. EC&R Development is an active franchise taxpayer, as required by Texas Tax Code Section 313.024(a) and is in good standing. After reviewing the application using the criteria listed in Section 313.026 and the information provided by EC&R Development, the Comptroller's recommendation is that EC&R Development's application under Tax Code Chapter 313 not be approved.
Trent ISD saw values plunge 35.1 percent, while values also slid for the city of Tye, Merkel ISD, the city of Buffalo Gap and Jim Ned Consolidated Independent School District. ...the changes have to do with wind turbines companies showing a tough business year. "The information that was brought to us by the wind turbine companies showed their income was down."
Keith Ellis, senior industrial and personal property appraiser, said there are several reasons wind farms and wind turbines have dropped in value. The price of electricity was low at the beginning of the year when values were set, he said, which means wind farms were not as profitable.
A wind farm of 160 megawatts only requires around seven maintenance workers after the horde of construction laborers leave. The comptroller's office criticizes the expense of those jobs, saying direct wind jobs are like "unicorns" and "mythical." "They bring in less jobs with the same capital investment as manufacturing," said Robert Wood, director of local government assistance and economic development at the Comptroller agency.
Abilene Superintendent Heath Burns said few school districts are negotiating property tax deals with industry these days because such plans cause the state's funding formula not to work well for the local school districts.
The Texas comptroller, not local school districts, should be in charge of negotiating school property tax breaks to businesses to attract large-scale investments such as manufacturing plants or wind farms, a new report by the Legislative Budget Board recommends.
According to a study from the Texas Comptrollers office, Texas spends too much to bring in windfarm contracts with little benefits. The Clay County Judge and Horn Wind -- the company in talks to construct the wind farm -- feel the study may be valid for the state but not for the county. In fact, the Vice President of the clean energy company says the wind farm will attract business to the county and will benefit every resident.
Texas is overpaying to lure major economic development projects, particularly wind farms, under a state law that allows school districts to grant tax breaks to recruit capital-intensive industries, a new study by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs concludes. Granting school property tax breaks has helped Texas attract manufacturing plants ...but the program "has increasingly been used to over-incentivize projects that create few or no jobs."