Scott Sklar

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Burning the Future

In Burning the Future: Coal in America, writer/director David Novack examines the explosive forces that have set in motion a groundswell of conflict between the coal industry and residents of West Virginia.

Burning The Future: Coal in America
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Written by Scott Sklar   
December 12, 2007
Let us plaster the Hill with calls to stop this ridiculous amendment. Rally the troops, especially Senators Pryor, Snowe, Stevens, Barrasso. Other Republicans. too. Vote tomorrow morning.

To limit the Small Wind Tax Credit to farms and rural small businesses (as defined in the Internal Revenue Code)

Background on the Small Wind Tax Credit in the Farm Bill tax title

Sponsors of small wind tax credit (S. 673):  Salazar, Smith, Dorgan, Craig, Murkowski, Feinstein, Kerry, Wyden, Stabenow, Johnson, Sanders, Coleman

  • 30% investment tax credit capped at $4,000 per system to help provide on-site power for homes, farms, and small businesses.
  • Small wind equipment is defined as wind turbines with capacity less than 100 kilowatts
  • A typical residential wind energy system includes a 1 to 10-kW turbine, with rotors measuring from between 3 and 23 feet in diameter, mounted on an 80-foot tower.
  • Authorized for one year (2008) at a cost of $5 million

Alexander Amendment SA 3553

Limits the Small Wind Tax Credit to farms and rural small businesses (as defined in the Internal Revenue Code)

  • Definition of farm (includes ranches)
    • The term “farm” includes stock, dairy, poultry, fruit, furbearing animal, and truck farms, plantations, ranches, nurseries, ranges, greenhouses or other similar structures used primarily for the raising of agricultural or horticultural commodities, and orchards and woodlands.
  • Definition of rural small businesses – both:
    • Gross receipts under $1 million or less than 30 employees
    • ß Located within a jurisdiction with less than 50,000 people or located outside a metropolitan statistical area.

REBUTTAL TO Alexander arguments in favor of SA 3553

1.  With the Small Wind Tax Credit currently in the Farm Bill, neighborhoods will be littered with 120-foot wind turbines


  • The Farm Bill Small Wind Tax Credit will have NO EFFECT on local and state laws and regulations on zoning, siting and permitting of wind turbines. 
  • IF WIND TURBINES ARE NOT CURRENTLY ALLOWED in a neighborhood, that will NOT CHANGE under the Farm Bill.
  • The idea that wind turbines will spring up in dense areas is unfounded.  They do not work well unless you have at least a half-acre of land.  In most suburban neighborhoods you have 6, 8, or even 10 houses per acre – small wind just won’t work there.

2. We should only provide support for turbines that are installed on farms, ranches, or rural small businesses.


  • Saying that small wind only works on properties with over 100 acres is A SLIPPERY SLOPE TOWARD FEDERAL ZONING OF PRIVATE PROPERTY.  Counties, cities, and states are far better suited than the federal government to establish zoning laws and regulations – THEY SHOULD DETERMINE WHERE SMALL WIND SHOULD AND SHOULD NOT GO.
  • Furthermore, saying that small wind should be installed on farms, ranches, or rural small businesses is both ARBITRARY and will result in MISSED OPPORTUNITIES.  It excludes:
    • Rural residences.  Think of all homes in rural communities that have lots of land and lots of wind – why not allow them to benefit from the federal tax credit, provided that local zoning allows them to do so?
    • Commercial areas and larger businesses.  Why not allow a big business, in an area that is zoned for industrial or commercial use, to put up a small wind turbine?  We have a Wal-Mart near I-70 in suburban Denver that has done just this, very successfully.
    • Let the technology work where it can work – which is on lands over _ acre – and let local and state governments decide where it can go.

3.  Stories have emerged in the media of residential wind turbines pitting neighbors against each other (i.e. neighbors complain when someone puts a wind turbine up) – the Small Wind Tax Credit would result in more conflicts.


  • These discussions of local zoning decisions should happen on the LOCAL level, NOT THE FEDERAL level.  It is a debate that pits the PRIVATE PROPERTY CONCERNS of one landowner against the AESTHETIC CONCERNS of a neighbor.  It is a debate that should happen at the LOCAL LEVEL in city councils and county commissions, not here!

The Small Wind Tax Credit in the Farm Bill stays NEUTRAL on where small wind turbines should go.  The U.S. Senate should not be CHERRY-PICKING SITES for these turbines.  That is what SA. 3553 would do.

Last Updated ( May 06, 2008 )
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