In light of the CSM notes from today, I would like to argue in favor of certain suggestions that have been brought up before on this forum and the old.
The Cost of Anchored Upwell Structures: Currently anchored Upwell Structure has no operational cost associated with them when they lack or have offlined service modules. Unlike POSes the Upwell structures still offer full ship and asset security and defensive capabilities. There have been various tax proposals as well as questions of fueling. There is a distinct advantage and disadvantage to both which I will go over first:
The advantage of a tax: Can be paid from any location and requires no logistical operation. The CEO or responsible agent in the corporation can pay this from the other side of the galaxy without breaking a sweat.
The disadvantage of a tax: Requires no logistical support. Opponents cannot starve you out or blockade you.
The problem with the tax approach is not that it makes it hard on little corps to maintain their structures (a weak argument in any event), the problem is that it makes it too easy to maintain the structures. Anyone, regardless of the size of their corp, could maintain any number of POSes and were required to fuel them if they wanted them to operate. The limitation was how much you wanted to spend to maintain the POS and whether you could logistically support it. A tax on Upwell structures is a purely electronic transaction and fails to address how the structure stays online or allow logistical considerations to it remaining online. However, there are certain aspects of the Upwell structure that should be taxed logically: Asset safety
The advantage of a fuel requirement: Can be paid in fuel blocks. These can be obtained via corporate production (time generating the materials is isk not made from the market sale of those materials) or directly purchasing. It requires delivery of the Fuel to the structure creating a need for logistic roles in the corporation. The other advantage is from an enemies standpoint: you can deny access to the structure and thus starve it.
The disadvantage of a fuel requirement: Requires moving materials to the structure to maintain it as active. This can be an issue for people in Wormholes, but people currently living in wormholes have already been used to this with POSes.
The benefit of requiring Upwell structures to have a certain amount of fuel to operate is sensible: POSes had this requirement to provide any form of protection to both players and the structure itself. Tethering and invulnerability should certainly have strong ties to whether or not the structure has fuel to support it. Additionally the use of fuel ensures that there are no absentee owners: someone has to physically bring fuel in.
My proposal is a hybrid approach: which requires both a tax and fuel.
The first part is to maintain asset safety by requiring a flat tax which scales based on the size of the structure and service modules installed. If the tax is not paid, then asset safety is turned off. To prevent abuse from the “I got war decced” or “someone is attacking the structure” and then paying the tax there is a two week bureaucratic delay between the time the tax is first paid and the asset safety kicks in. The the tax is not paid and the structure is destroyed, then normal loot mechanics take place and the contents drop, just like in a Wormhole; even in High Sec.
The second part of the hybrid approach is to require a base amount of fuel to maintain the Vulnerability and Tethering which scales based on the size of the structure. It should have it’s own fuel bay separate from the service modules fuel bay and be limited to allow up 30 days worth of fuel. If the fuel is not present the structure will no longer allow tethering and the structure losses its invulnerability. In the case of the structure becoming vulnerable it can be attacked at any time, there are no shields, and the delay between armor reinforce and structure reinforce is reduced to 24 hours. In other words: you can kill an unfueled Upwell structure in 48 hours… a little longer than an unfueled POS, but less than a week for currently abandoned structures. And to prevent the “I got war decced” or “someone is attacking the structure” there is 72 hour delay between adding fuel and the structure’s tethering and invulnerability coming back online.
This hybrid approach should be easily maintainable by small corporations (as a small corp owner with a couple of structures, I am confident of this statement) let alone major corps. There should be an automatic alert that notifies the CEO, directors, and those with appropriate structure roles that the tax must be paid or that the fuel is running short. Like office rental, this tax should have an automatic pay option.
I applaud Noobman for promoting a small deployable structure with limited function that can be used as a beachhead. Something that can be deployed within under 2 hours, allows tethering and limited storage without asset safety and no timers would be a boon to any area of space you need to perform staging that POSes used to provide. That CCP was positive towards this suggestion is encouraging. I just want to further encourage CCP to follow the suggestion up.