Government rules on tax credits

Wind plant investors in the Netherlands have now been declared eligible for tax credits under the Accelerated Depreciation on Environmental Investments Scheme (VAMIL). The announcement came as a relief to many of Holland's small scale wind plant owners who had been left in limbo by tax authorities who had claimed that VAMIL credits were not applicable to wind turbine investments.

The good news was broken by Stan Dessens, director general of energy at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, while attending a national wind energy seminar on October 1 in Scheveningen. Although no details of the subsidy were given, it looks likely to resolve a long running dispute over rebate entitlement between the ministries of finance and economic affairs. VAMIL was originally introduced as one of a series of fiscal measures intended to stimulate wind power investment after subsidies of the capital cost of wind plant where cut in 1995. By allowing companies to write off investments in certain types of equipment earlier than with normal depreciation it was intended to help keep down taxable income in the early years of investment, thus improving liquidity.

The scheme ran into problems, however, when the Dutch revenue service refused to grant the rebate to some small private sector investors -- mostly farmers -- on the grounds that operating a single turbine should not be regarded as a business activity but as a form of capital management. Dessens' announcement follows a recent recommendation by the Dutch federation of tax consultants that small scale wind turbine operation should be regarded as a commercial venture despite the low levels of labour involved in operation.

The precise form of the subsidy is currently being discussed by government ministers, but the ministry confirms that a sum of NLG 7.5 million a year will be made available under the scheme. From the Dutch association of Private Wind Turbine Owners (PAWEX), Mathieu Kortenoever welcomes the news. He says PAWEX will be in a better position to comment on the proposal after talks with the ministry and the organisation of electricity distribution companies, EnergieNed.

Kortenoever estimates that to date some 25 MW of installed capacity has been affected by the dispute, either in unrealised projects, or projects which have had to find alternative means of finance.