These days, most states—and even federal agencies—are better at giving out tax credits than revoking them. But in a surprising show of initiative, the New Mexico Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources actually pulled $30 million in clean-energy tax credits
from Western Water and Power Production Ltd, a company that planned
to turn forests into biomass fuel. In the two years since it got the credits, though, WWPP had so little to show for its plan that (to the delight of some environmental groups) the EMNRD has revoked its credits. Providing WWPP doesn't sue to get the credits back, EMNRD will reallocate them to other renewable energy companies that are, well, actually doing something. Documents and details after the jump.
"We consider this a positive turn of events for not only New Mexicans that have to breathe our air, but also for real clean energy,"
Bryan Bird, the Wild Places Program Director at Wild Earth Guardians
, tells SFR. Bird says WWPP's plan to burn forest material south of Albuquerque was unsustainable—pinon and juniper forests down there take a long time to regenerate—but also took up tax credits that could have been used for more sustainable energy options like wind and solar power.
"There's a limited number of tax credits," Bird explains. "[WWPP] can't get the tax credits until they're actually producing electricity, so they [were] basically sitting on the credits."
Bird says residents' and environmental groups' concerns contributed to the EMNRD's decision to pull the credits. SFR has a call in to the EMNRD's Energy Conservation and Management Division, which issued the revocation (see the document up top). We're waiting to hear from WWPP, too, but for now, here's their plea: You
try getting a new business off the ground in a freakin' recession. Click to enlarge
the docs below.
Updated March 19:
SFR spoke with David Cohen, the attorney for WWPP, yesterday, and here's his take on the situation:
About the same time we got our tax credits, the credit meltdown occurred, and there was basically no capital for any kind of project. For the past two years we've been actively seeking lending from banks around the world, and there simply was no credit.
That's changing, Cohen says: WWPP has secured a letter of intent from a California company, and when the project gets off the ground, he says it'll provide 150 new construction jobs and 25 permanent jobs.
Also, he says, "Our biomass will replace coal. Every megawatt we produce, we're in essence reducing a coal unit—or alternatively, because we run 24/7, we're supporting other renewable resources."
Cohen denies that the biomass plant will burn virgin forest and points out that the next company in line for clean-energy tax credits is a wind farm that's already built, which means fewer jobs created. Then again, it'll actually produce clean energy in the near future.