Geothermal energy is worth more than $1 billion in property taxes, Signorotti said, and that doesn’t include Hudson Ranch 1.
Solar projects, though exempt from property taxes under federal green incentives, create sales tax benefits to the county, said Tom Buttgenbach, president of 8 Minute Energy.
During the lifetime of his company’s solar projects, the county will collect about $50 million, he said.
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Nevertheless, in terms of jobs, Buttgenbach did acknowledge that solar projects displace agricultural jobs.
“But we create five new jobs for any ag job displaced,” he said without explaining if these jobs are permanent or temporary.
There are other benefits of renewable energy that go beyond jobs and taxes.
Ajit Venkatraman, vice president of Simbol Materials, is hoping to use geothermal waste from the Valley and produce lithium for electric car batteries, manganese for metallurgy and even nutrients for agriculture.
These projects could mean about $25 billion in revenues, he said and added the country would benefit as a whole because lithium and manganese are produced in very specific locations abroad.
“There is more than enough lithium in this Valley to take care of all the growth from electric vehicles for the next 10 years,” he said.
Wind energy is also abundant in the Valley, said Glen Hodges, senior developer of Pattern Energy, who noted that wind energy in the Valley is comparable to that in Palm Springs. And if a proposed wind farm in Ocotillo is approved, more than 350 construction jobs would be created, Hodges said.
The number of jobs does become more modest after the project is completed, as 20 permanent positions would remain mainly for maintenance and operation.
Still, there is a “tremendous amount of property taxes,” he said.
Only in the first year of operation the county would get $5 million.
The information presented is educational and beneficial for the public, said Robert Morgan, president of Agile Energy. And though renewable energy development carries some trade-offs, Morgan said, “these are positive trade-offs.”
Staff Writer Alejandro Davila can be reached at 760-337-3445 or firstname.lastname@example.org