Break like the wind

By AL DIAMON  |  August 17, 2006

Let’s start with the environment. Proponents of zephyr-powered electrical generation claim the clean energy from this project will eliminate 860,000 pounds of air pollution each day. Exactly how they came up with that figure isn’t too clear (other advocates have presented considerably smaller numbers), but for the sake of argument, let’s assume that statistic is accurate.

So where does the reduction come from? Supporters of the wind farm say that once the blades start rotating, power plants burning coal or gas could be shut down, thereby reducing emissions. But I don’t think that’s what fledgling enviros like Hardy and Cuttler have in mind. They expect wind farms to produce additional electricity for new development. Which is probably why you’ve never seen a list of power plants scheduled to be phased out once Redington-Black Nubble comes on line.

As for economics, wind farms are sweet deals. For people who own them. They get a federal tax credit of 1.9 cents for every kilowatt-hour they produce.

You pay for that. Then, you pay for the electricity you helped pay to generate.

There’s more. Wind farms are eligible for tax breaks that allow the owners to depreciate as much as 50 percent of the cost in the first year and 100 percent within five years.

You pay for that, too.

The wind farm being built in Mars Hill has already qualified for a property tax rebate of $250,000 a year.

You won’t have to pay for that. Unless you live in Mars Hill.

One study estimated that two-thirds of the economic benefit owners derive from windmills comes not from selling power, but from tax breaks.

Something stinks. If it’s isn’t air pollution, it may have something to do with the word “wind” being a synonym not only for babble and balderdash, but also for flatulence.

Breezy comments can be e-mailed to me at

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Related: Letter to the Boston editor: April 13, 2007, Jackson's sweet dream, Greenheads, More more >
  Topics: News Features , U.S. Government, U.S. State Government, Electricity Generation,  More more >
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