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Wind farm may be in doubt

[A] BP representative explained that the project could be phased in with 60 windmills possibly becoming available next year, and the remaining 40 coming some time later. Of the 60 windmills, David Gonzalez said, the majority are planned in Archer County.The change in the proposal was not met with enthusiasm by commissioners. ..."The prospect of an abatement has been based on a 250 megawatt buildout," Precinct 2 Commissioner John C. Bullock said. "The prospect of a phase in was not mentioned. If we had know that, it likely would have been different."

A proposed wind farm in northern Young County may be in doubt after BP revealed that some of the proposal may change.

During a regular meeting of commissioners court Monday, a BP representative explained that the project could be phased in with 60 windmills possibly becoming available next year, and the remaining 40 coming some time later. Of the 60 windmills, David Gonzalez said, the majority are planned in Archer County.

"We have progressed," Attorney Alan Carmichael told commissioners. "The original proposal by British Petroleum was to build a 250 megawatt project with approximately 40 percent of the turbines to be built in Young County."

Carmichael explained that when BP made the proposal, it asked for a tiered tax abatement that began with 75 percent the first year and decreased through the 10-year agreement.

"Since the negotiations progressed, we countered with a 60-40 agreement, agreeing to abate 60 percent the first five years and 40 percent the last five years," Carmichael said. "BP has come back, and instead of a 250 megawatt package with 100 turbines, it looks like 60 turbines have become available in 2009. We have concerns the initial 60 turbines may... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A proposed wind farm in northern Young County may be in doubt after BP revealed that some of the proposal may change.

During a regular meeting of commissioners court Monday, a BP representative explained that the project could be phased in with 60 windmills possibly becoming available next year, and the remaining 40 coming some time later. Of the 60 windmills, David Gonzalez said, the majority are planned in Archer County.

"We have progressed," Attorney Alan Carmichael told commissioners. "The original proposal by British Petroleum was to build a 250 megawatt project with approximately 40 percent of the turbines to be built in Young County."

Carmichael explained that when BP made the proposal, it asked for a tiered tax abatement that began with 75 percent the first year and decreased through the 10-year agreement.

"Since the negotiations progressed, we countered with a 60-40 agreement, agreeing to abate 60 percent the first five years and 40 percent the last five years," Carmichael said. "BP has come back, and instead of a 250 megawatt package with 100 turbines, it looks like 60 turbines have become available in 2009. We have concerns the initial 60 turbines may all be scheduled for construction in Archer County. I've expressed my displeasure with that. With that, do we want to offer an abatement at all at this time? Do we want to require a minimum number of turbines?"

The change in the proposal was not met with enthusiasm by commissioners.

"The prospect of an abatement has been based on a 250 megawatt buildout," Precinct 2 Commissioner John C. Bullock said. "The prospect of a phase in was not mentioned. If we had know that, it likely would have been different."

Gonzalez tried to explain the alternative from BP's standpoint, pointing out that he told commissioners of the possible change as soon as he learned.
"The project has still not been approved by BP's management, so we need some help getting this approved," Gonzalez said. "We're making business decisions. We're going to place our turbines in areas where he have the highest production."

Gonzalez explained that BP has been studying the area for some time and Archer County has a slight advantage in wind and topography.

"Our preliminary information indicates most of those turbines could go in Archer County mostly because of the wind," Gonzalez said. "Because of the topography, the wind appears to be slightly higher."

Gonzalez said the smaller opening phase is in no means guaranteed and is only possible because another project has run into permitting problems and may be delayed.

"In reality, the 250 megawatt could go on exactly as planned," he said. "In that case, we could go forward with the project exactly as planned. We have land leased in Young County, we plan to build in Young County."

The only question left when?

Faced with the possibility that Archer County might gets windmills and therefore tax benefits before Young County, commissioners were not pleased.

The three commissioners involved in the discussion agreed that BP should put at least a third of the windmills in Young County no matter what.

"Some semblance of one third of the first phase should be in Young County," Bullock said. "We think that would be fair to us. We want you to be proper to us."

Gonzalez responded by saying that BP could make no guarantees because the project itself was not guaranteed.

"This project still has some uncertainties to it," he said. "It's still in the preliminary stages.

"We cannot provide any guarantee to either county. What we want to do is have it based on where the wind is."

But that was not a suitable answer.

"This is not how it was presented to us," Precinct 1 Commissioner John Hawkins said. "It was presented to us that Young County would get 34 or 35 percent. Now it's a new ball game."

Precinct 4 Commissioner Jimmy Wiley said if BP wanted the county to be willing to make guarantees, the company should be willing to do the same.
"We want to work with you as much as anything, but there needs to be good faith," Wiley said. "You should put 15 here, and you can put the other 45 there."

In the end, Gonzalez said he was unable to make any guarantees.

"We're not in a position where we can guarantee turbines to either side," he said. "I'm really struggling with what you are asking, but I do want to keep the lines of communication open."

Carrie Albright with BP said the uproar was really not necessary because BP still hoped to get all 100 turbines in the area soon.

"We're really not moving away from what was originally proposed," she said. "We're still gearing toward 35 turbines by 2010."


Source: http://www.grahamleader.com...

OCT 14 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/17485-wind-farm-may-be-in-doubt
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