Virginia Governor Questions Continuance of Tax Subsidies for Failing Coal Companies FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Alicia Petska for the Roanoke Times:The state’s coal employment tax credit — which cost the state an estimated $28.4 million last year— is due to sunset at the end of December. Southwest Virginia lawmakers are again pushing to reset that clock and extend the program by three to five years.But Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who vetoed extension bills last year, is renewing his concerns about the program.McAuliffe, pointing in part to the findings of a 2012 study, has called for revamping how the state funnels money into the coalfield region’s economic development.“I’ve been pretty vocal on the coal tax credit. It hasn’t worked,” he told reporters after an event Friday. “We’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars on it, and we’ve still lost a lot of jobs. I’ve got to protect taxpayer dollars. I’ve got to invest our tax dollars so we can grow our economy.”But the coal companies who have come to rely on the industry tax break — one of the larger ones the state offers — are pleading with lawmakers not to kill the program.“This is absolutely key to our survival, and we’re in a survival mode,” Donnie Ratliff of Alpha Natural Resources, which declared bankruptcy last summer, told a House subcommittee during a hearing Friday.Virginia offers two major tax credits targeted at the coal industry. One benefits coal mine operators while another is used by power companies that purchase coal — though portions of the second can be shifted to mine operators.The tax credits were created to slow the decline of Virginia’s coal industry, but a 2012 Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission study questioned whether they were succeeding.Coal production has continued to plummet, it found, and mining jobs have disappeared at faster-than-projected rates. In 1988, Virginia had over 11,100 coal jobs, according to the state’s finance office. Today, only about 2,800 remain.That was despite the state plowing over $610 million into coal tax credits during that period.Glen Besa, state director for the Sierra Club, contended it would be short-sighted of Virginia to continue banking so heavily on coal and subsidizing companies like Alpha Natural Resources, which he criticized for filing for bankruptcy and then seeking permission to pay millions of dollars in executive bonuses.The state’s coal production is only going to continue to decline, Besa said.“When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you should do is stop digging,” he said. “There’s no question that coal has run this country for over 100 years, and the people that mine that coal should be respected. But we should be finding ways to help those people and that region make the transition away from coal.”Full article: McAuliffe, lawmakers argue over coal tax credits
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Andy Balaskovitz for Midwest Energy News:Driven by Republican support, Michigan lawmakers advanced a pair of comprehensive energy bills Wednesday that seek to put more restrictions on the state’s electric choice program and limit clean energy standards.SB 438, which passed the Senate Energy and Technology Committee 7-3 along party lines, would hold a 10 percent renewable energy standard “floor” going forward and phase out Michigan’s successful energy efficiency program by 2021. The bill establishes a 35 percent clean energy goal by 2025, which would include energy efficiency and an expanded definition of renewable energy to include incineration.Proposed amendments backed by Democrats to increase the state’s renewables portfolio standard to 15 percent and 20 percent failed, as did a proposal to extend the efficiency standard to 2025.“I think we missed a golden opportunity here to build on very successful 2008 energy legislation and bring more parties on board to build support,” said Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood.The bill does not, however, eliminate the state’s solar net metering program in favor of a “buy-all, sell-all” model where generators would buy their electricity from a utility and reimburse at roughly wholesale rates. That proposal originally drew fierce criticism from clean energy advocates. Though some changes were made for net metering provisions, existing participants would be grandfathered in under the existing system.SB 437 would maintain Michigan’s 10 percent cap on customers who can participate in electric choice, but place greater restrictions on alternative energy suppliers to provide capacity and on customers who participate.Full article: Michigan lawmakers advance bills to abandon clean energy standards Michigan Legislators Move to Slow Growth of Renewables, End State Energy-Efficiency Program
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