Wind Energy Compromise Bill Passes House
(By Aaron Kunz)
Boise — The Idaho House today passed a tax credit bill that’s generating friction between the wind energy developers who want it and utilities that complain they’re being forced to buy more power than they need.
The bill’s impetus, according to an Idaho Power representative, is a federal law that forces utilities to buy power from qualifying alternative energy developers. The rep says the energy Idaho Power is forced to buy often comes during off-peak hours when it’s not needed — and that it makes little sense to expand too much with an energy source that’s not available when the wind isn’t blowing.
The House’s 41-25 vote sends the bill to the Senate. The proposal extends until December 2014 a sales tax rebate currently set to expire in 2012.
The compromise comes with a big stipulation: only wind energy projects that have their projects approved and contracts signed by the end of October will qualify for the tax credit extension. The tax break is a 6 percent return to alternative energy companies which has been the standard in Idaho since 2005 and is worth millions to larger projects – particularly those bigger wind farms.
(More on the issue can be found here.)