Re-posted with permission from Graham Christensen of the Nebraska Farmer’s Union
All Renewable Energy Is Not Created Equal
At 1:30pm today (Tuesday, May 21st) LB104 comes up for Select File debate on the floor of the Nebraska Legislature. LB104 is one of two renewable energy sales tax abatement bills up for debate, the other is LB402. In Nebraska, any sales tax abatement would be an improvement and help us catch up with other states, such as Iowa, that have pulled ahead of us on wind and renewable energy development. However there are stark differences in the two approaches, so I will quickly explain why we need you to weigh in to all Senators you can (especially yours) against LB104, and in support of LB402.
First, LB402 is inclusive of all types and sizes of renewable energy. LB104 would show preference to the larger projects, and it is projected that it would take $37 million or more in investment to qualify for sales tax abatement. This is an extremely flawed approach because it puts ‘distributed energy’ or more locally developed projects at a serious disadvantage to larger projects. Larger projects show up and get sales tax abatement, but the local projects still have to earn it. At this point Nebraska communities should be embracing their natural resources and working to develop them at all sizes, all across our state. Solar and community wind development are examples that would be at a serious disadvantage under the LB104 approach.
Secondly, LB402 requires more Nebraska based companies to be involved with wind energy development. Under LB104, Nebraska based companies do not have an equal opportunity to bid on Nebraska wind projects. That includes Nebraska labor, engineering, electrical, architecture, professional services, legal, etc. This is not fair to our friends and family. Instead of international companies hopping from state to state to develop projects we should prioritize our local businesses, putting Nebraskans to work, and retaining higher percentages of dollars right here at home. This would further empower both our cities and our rural areas.
LB402 is fair. It treats everyone the same, big or small. To get a break from our taxes you should have to earn it. LB402 ensures this. It also sets the stage for our state to work with all communities to develop a localized and modern energy infrastructure that is not only safer and more reliable, but also helps our state thrive economically for years to come. If we really want to catch up with all other surrounding states in wind energy development then we need a sales tax abatement passed. If we want to take the next step and surpass all other states and create an example for other states to follow, then we need to use the method that retains more money right here in ‘The Good Life’. This vision starts with supporting and passing LB402.