I am 99% in favor of pump storage, and when we get a couple issues I have with it fixed I will be 100% on board.
I have had these issues for years and I keep getting blown off, well until this election that is.
Here are my concerns
- The Governor tends to make green energy tax exempt. If that's the case with pump storage, this project will pay less, and the people will pay the projects share, and that's a considerable number. So we might end up with another huge financial debacle!
Now, thankfully because of this election, the commissioners are starting to listen as topics like the following are now on their agenda. "Discussion regarding the depreciation of values for alternative energy projects. As energy project values depreciate the tax burden shifts to the regular taxpayers and to fix the issue a legislative change or Department of Revenue policy change may be needed."
- They keep saying our people will get jobs, including a lot of construction jobs. I personally think their numbers are way overinflated. Here is way.
Our own county employee advised the commissioners last year that "The new energy bill recognizes existing hydropower and new pump storage as renewable. Labor was able to add a provision that there would be the ability to get a refund of sales and use taxes paid for generating equipment, but it is tied to labor agreements. You can get a 50% tax refund by hiring local or woman-owned companies but receive a 100% refund if there is local contract covering the labor. Klickitat County does not have any union contractors."
Meaning they probably won't hire locally as we don't have any union contractors in Klickitat county. Most likely, pump storage will hire outside the county to do the work because they will save at least 50% of the taxes. So thinking we are going to get construction jobs, does just not understand the new bill out of Olympia last year. Yes, I believe the people in the region will get jobs, but I feel most of the 20-40 jobs created will be lower wage jobs servicing the construction workers that are flown in.
- My other concern is that this project in slated to be put into tax district 37. Our entire county is valued at 3.7 billion. Pump storage is going to be 2 billion and if we get the Google Data processing center that will be another 1 billion.Making half the county’s value put in little bitty tax district 37. That’s a pretty small district for a project as huge as this. I don’t believe anyone has thought about or looked into possible property tax disparities in neighboring tax districts.This isn’t a huge issue as I believe we can change the tax district at any time, but it is an issue I would like us to get in front of.
So yes, I believe this is a great project for our county, but I do have a couple of concerns. But my concerns can be addressed and we have plenty of time to make any adjustments necessary to get this deal done right the first time.