Tax breaks make it easy to be green

Montana State Roundup

Published July 1, 2007  | July 2007 issue

Calling tax incentives an important first step toward fostering wind farms, clean-burning coal plants and other forms of environmentally benign energy generation in the state, lawmakers granted broad property tax relief to developers of such projects in May.

The "clean and green" energy bill slashes property tax rates for power plants, pipelines, transmission lines and other facilities required to bring to market clean power, defined in the law as renewable forms of energy and "clean" coal burning.

Permanent tax rates on new transmission lines transporting clean power and on pipelines carrying biodiesel, ethanol and captured carbon dioxide from coal plants will drop 75 percent. Ethanol, biodiesel, clean-biomass and coal gasification plants that sequester carbon will receive 50 percent tax abatements for 10 years during construction and operation, as will renewable-energy manufacturing facilities.

Lawmakers said the tax incentives were necessary to compete with neighboring Wyoming and North Dakota for new clean-energy generation and transmission projects. During the session concern arose that a $120 million transmission line seen as vital to wind farm development in north-central Montana might not be built without a tax break.

Phil Davies