Tax time is here, and many folks don’t realize that there are federal and state tax credits available for energy conservation projects and the production of renewable energy. The Federal government has a tax credit for businesses that install solar, wind, microturbines, or fuel cells. This credit is due to drop to 10% by the end of this year, but currently the credit is set at 30% to encourage the installation of solar, wind, and fuel cells. More information can be found at www.energy.gov/taxbreaks.htm
The Montana Department of Revenue offers incentives for individuals and corporations. Individuals can get an income tax credit worth 25% of their investment in qualifying renewable energy projects for their home or other building, up to $500. Individuals can also qualify for an Alternative Energy Systems Credit for installing solar panels, windmills, pellet stoves, biomass generators, or other forms of renewable energy. Both individuals and corporations can qualify for tax credits for converting a vehicle to alternate fuels, crushing oilseeds, production and blending of biofuels and a number of other activities that may save energy. There is even a tax credit for equipment used to manufacture materials from recycled goods. While most of the above credits apply to income tax, there is a property tax exemption for the installation of non-fossil fuel generating systems in homes and businesses. More information can be found at www.mt.gov/revenue/energyconservation. For information on other states, check out the Database of state incentives for renewable energy at www.dsireusa.org.
On Thursday, Two Dot Wind LLC of Billings asked the Montana Public Service Commission to reject Northwestern Energy’s plan to charge what they feel is an exorbitant integration fee to add power from the company’s wind generators into Northwestern’s electrical grid. Northwestern’s position is that if they are required to buy the four megawatts of power generated by Two Dot Wind at Martinsdale and Livingston, they will also need to purchase an equal amount of regulating reserve power to make up for times when the wind isn’t blowing, and that Two Dot Wind should be responsible for paying for the extra costs of integrating that power output. Two Dot Wind and representatives of other small wind generating companies contend that the cost of integrating their power into the grid is small, and that they should not have to pay unless Northwestern comes up with a study that shows the actual cost. They fear that if the Public Service Commission allows the higher cost, wind energy companies will abandon projects in Montana in favor of neighboring states with lower integration costs. Two Dot Wind was founded by Billings doctor David Healow, and owns wind turbines at the Martinsdale Hutterite Colony and just north of Two Dot.
The Helena Independent Record article by Mike Dennison on this story can be found at www.helenair.com/articles/2008/03/07/top/55st_080307_wind.txt
Jay Toups of the Big Sky Coalition reported a successful turnout at last weekend’s symposium on biomass production in Hamilton. Some 250 attendees heard presentations on bio-energy, turning woody fuel into power, plasma conversion technology, turning manure into methane, bio-fuels from algae. There was also a presentation on America’s energy future by a member of the 25×25 Organization, which hopes to generate 25% of America’s energy needs from bio-fuels by the year 2025. Most of these presentations can be viewed at: http://www.bigskycoalition.org.