Posted by Kevin Carson at C4SS
I hear frequently from a doctoral student named Keith Taylor, who’s researching electrical power cooperatives and decentralized models for developing wind power. He’s sent me quite a bit of material, over the past year or so, on the extent to which government “alternative energy” policy systematically privileges large-scale, conventional corporate business models and expensive proprietary technology.
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The government’s refundable tax credits, for example, don’t go to rural electric co-ops because they’re tax-exempt. Sounds only fair, right? But the thing is the credits are refundable — which means that if a business pays any taxes at all the credits it’s eligible for don’t have to bear any relation to the amount of taxes actually paid. It’s like a $20,000 welfare check that kicks in when you earn a single dollar in wage income, but is unavailable to the unemployed. So the credits are, in fact, a massive subsidy to the largest corporate wind farms.