Although it is unfortunately not online, a March 8 Newport Daily News story by Marcia Pobzeznik raises an interesting controversy involving a wind turbine in Tiverton. Like all green energy installations, the turbine is heavily subsidized, and it is arguably more so, in this case, because it is part of the affordable housing development at Sandywoods Farm. That hasn’t made the owners shy about wanting to skirt their tax bill.
According to Tiverton’s tax assessor, David Robert, the turbine is worth $395,000 and is taxed accordingly at $7,560 annually. Church Community Housing Corp., the owner of the development, is arguing that the turbine should be exempt from taxation because the energy is sold at retail. There, if I’m understanding the article correctly, is the rub:
The electricity generated by the turbine is sold to National Grid per an agreement signed on May 9, 2011. The 275-kilowatt turbine’s output would “offset some, but less than all of the projected on-site usage” of the housing development, according to the agreement that Sandywoods shared with the Tax Assessment Board of Review.
Because of the way the transaction is structured — with the turbine owner receiving a check from National Grid and being charged separately for its own energy — the lawyer for the development argues that it is, indeed, selling the energy.
One suspects that, even to the extent the general public pays attention to public policy, most people wouldn’t think it matters whether a turbine owner gets a reduction on his or her bill or just a check that offsets energy usage. With green energy, affordable housing, and any government-subsidized activity, though, one must always assume there to be a scheme.
Just another reason to stop all subsidies.