The Galloo Island wind turbine project has languished. The island remains undeveloped, the route of a power line from the project to the mainland is unresolved, the route once on shore is unknown and a customer for the electricity has not been announced.
What is known is that the financial model for wind projects is becalmed by the expiration of the federal tax breaks afforded to wind developers. The subsidy by Americas taxpayers has not been extended by the Congress, leaving developers without access to financial markets. Without the taxpayers promise of a 2.2-cent-per-kilowatt hour subsidy at a cost of $12 billion per year, Wall Street investors just arent interested. That credit expires Monday night.
Every resident of Jefferson County financially supports wind development through the federal budget, and two years ago the county Legislatureasked taxpayers to do even more by reducing the property tax obligation of the developer. Jefferson County joined the federal government in committing to underwrite the production of power that is noncompetitive with the rest of the electricity market.
And despite the promises, no jobs have been produced except for a handful of lawyers and lobbyists.
The lesson of the Galloo tax deal should be clear in the minds of county legislators. It was an expensive concession that resulted in no benefit to the county, school and town governments. If the federal government extends the tax breaks, Jefferson County leaders should prepare themselves to tell all wind developers that they already have all the tax breaks they need to prosper and that the county will not add property tax relief to the parade of federal subsidies.