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Deal would aid wind project

FLORIDA — A tax agreement between PPM Energy and the towns of Florida and Monroe could prevent costly disputes about the land used for Hoosac Wind LLC, a proposal for 20 wind turbines on Bakke Mountain and Crum Hill.

Attorney James B. Art, serving as counsel for both towns on the wind project, said a payment in lieu of taxes wouldn't necessarily increase revenues from the property. But he said that the agreement, which could last for a decade or longer, would allow the towns and the company to avoid disagreements over the assessed values every three years.

"All the property associated with this project is going to be taxable, which the developer has acknowledged," Art said. With an agreement, he added, "you're not going to be hiring lawyers and consultants and expert witnesses (to determine the value of the land and the electricity-producing equipment)."

A payment in lieu of taxes would determine the full and fair tax value of the property for a certain number of years, Art said, providing PPM Energy and the towns with certainty about the company's long-term tax obligations.

He recommended that the towns hire a consultant with wind energy experience to help structure the deal.

"There hasn't been a deal like this done in Massachusetts," Art said. "It could serve as a model for this state." Any agreement would depend on complete approval of permits for the wind turbines.

A payment in lieu of taxes would apply to land owned by... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Attorney James B. Art, serving as counsel for both towns on the wind project, said a payment in lieu of taxes wouldn't necessarily increase revenues from the property. But he said that the agreement, which could last for a decade or longer, would allow the towns and the company to avoid disagreements over the assessed values every three years.
 
"All the property associated with this project is going to be taxable, which the developer has acknowledged," Art said. With an agreement, he added, "you're not going to be hiring lawyers and consultants and expert witnesses (to determine the value of the land and the electricity-producing equipment)."
 
A payment in lieu of taxes would determine the full and fair tax value of the property for a certain number of years, Art said, providing PPM Energy and the towns with certainty about the company's long-term tax obligations.
 
He recommended that the towns hire a consultant with wind energy experience to help structure the deal.
 
"There hasn't been a deal like this done in Massachusetts," Art said. "It could serve as a model for this state." Any agreement would depend on complete approval of permits for the wind turbines.
 
A payment in lieu of taxes would apply to land owned by PPM Energy or leased to the company by the towns but, without special legislation from the state, could not cover lands owned by private individuals, which include some of the parcels where proposed turbines would be located.
 
Participants at a town meeting would have to vote on a final agreement, which also would need approval from the state Department of Revenue.
 
The town expects "sizable" payments from the developer, but the annual amounts or tax revenue remains uncertain.
 
Selectman Neil G. Oleson said the towns should consider the tax payments from wind projects elsewhere and consider other energy companies. "It's another business," he said. "There are enough of them out there to know the value."
 
PPM Energy, an Oregon-based company, purchased Hoosac Wind in January from enXco, which first proposed the project in 2001. The $40 million plan to install 20 wind turbines on ridge lines in Florida and Monroe would generate about 30 megawatts of power. Initially expected to start in 2004, the project has been delayed by concerns about negative impacts on the mountains. PPM Energy wants to start operating the wind turbines in 2007.
 
"There's substantial ground to cover before the turbines are going to be constructed," Art said. The Division of Administrative Law Appeals has been considering an appeal filed by Green Berkshires — a group that opposes the project — of a permit for the wind turbines issued by the Department of Environmental Protection in November 2004.
 
Both towns have decided to have special town meetings to discuss the negotiation of a payment agreement, although the exact dates haven't been chosen. The meetings would authorize town representatives — possibly selectmen, assessors or town administrators —to deal with the energy company.


Source: http://www.berkshireeagle.c...

MAR 28 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/1897-deal-would-aid-wind-project
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