'Green' tax incentives drawing interest - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

'Green' tax incentives drawing interest

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Posted: Monday, November 9, 2009 6:23 pm | Updated: 12:41 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

They haven't taken effect yet.

But some new tax incentives to lure firms that specialize in renewable energy may be blossoming.

David Drennon, spokesman for the Arizona Department of Commerce, said Monday his agency has received close to three dozen queries from firms interested in setting up shop in the state to take advantage of generous tax credits that become available next year.

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Drennon said he is not permitted to divulge the names of the companies. But he said the chances are good that one or more of these firms will make announcements about their plans, even before the end of the year.

And if companies haven't heard about it yet, the state is attempting to spread the word: Gov. Jan Brewer is slated to do a "ceremonial" signing of the bill Tuesday, four months after she actually inked her approval of the real legislation.

If the measure attracts firms, it will be vindication for Sen. Barbara Leff, R-Paradise Valley, who pushed the measure through over the objections of legislators, including several from her own party. That includes Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, who said the state should be lowering taxes for all firms, not just for what he said is a select sector.

The measure is limited to firms that either manufacture solar, wind or geothermal energy-producing devices. They would get the credits if they locate or move their headquarters to Arizona.

Leff cobbled together a coalition of Republicans and Democrats to get the votes to create the law.

Part of what made the package acceptable to some lawmakers is the link to salaries.

The law, which takes effect in January, gives eligible firms a check equal to what they spend on building a new manufacturing operation or corporate office.

To get that, though, at least half of the company's workers would have to be paid at least 125 percent of the state's annual prevailing wage of $37,050 a year. And firms would have to cover at least 80 percent of each worker's health insurance costs.

The legislation also would give qualified businesses an 80 percent break in their property taxes for 15 years. But that would require that half the workers be paid at least twice the prevailing wage.

Companies whose salaries are lower - half the workers earning at least 125 percent of that prevailing wage - could get the same break for just 10 years.

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