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Jefferson County legislators approve Galloo Island wind farm

The Jefferson County Legislature, after hearing from dozens of speakers both pro and con, approved the payment-in-lieu-of taxes agreement for the Galloo Island Wind Farm on an 8-5 vote. ...the acceptance of the 20-year agreement means that Upstate New York Power Corp. can now move forward with procuring the necessary permits for the project.

The Jefferson County Legislature, after hearing from dozens of speakers both pro and con, approved the payment-in-lieu-of taxes agreement for the Galloo Island Wind Farm on an 8-5 vote.

Legislators Robert Thomas, Michael Behling, Kent Burto, Allen Drake, Barry Ormsby, James St. Croix, James Nabywaniec, Kenneth Blankenbush voted for the PILOT. Legislators Carolyn Fitzpatrick, Jennie Adsit, Michael Docteur, Scott Gray and Philip Reed voted against. Legislators Gino Zando and Robert Ferris were absent, which count as no votes. The vote will be recorded as 8-7 in favor.

The meeting drew hundreds of spectators, with many directed to rooms away from the legislative chamber to watch on closed circuit television. While there were passionate pleas both for and against the PILOT - and for and against the project itself - the acceptance of the 20-year agreement means that Upstate New York Power Corp. can now move forward with procuring the necessary permits for the project.

Earlier in the day, the developer of the proposed Galloo Island Wind Farm has offered a $3.5 million community fund and job guarantees in a last-minute effort to entice Jefferson County legislators to vote for a... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The Jefferson County Legislature, after hearing from dozens of speakers both pro and con, approved the payment-in-lieu-of taxes agreement for the Galloo Island Wind Farm on an 8-5 vote.

Legislators Robert Thomas, Michael Behling, Kent Burto, Allen Drake, Barry Ormsby, James St. Croix, James Nabywaniec, Kenneth Blankenbush voted for the PILOT. Legislators Carolyn Fitzpatrick, Jennie Adsit, Michael Docteur, Scott Gray and Philip Reed voted against. Legislators Gino Zando and Robert Ferris were absent, which count as no votes. The vote will be recorded as 8-7 in favor.

The meeting drew hundreds of spectators, with many directed to rooms away from the legislative chamber to watch on closed circuit television. While there were passionate pleas both for and against the PILOT - and for and against the project itself - the acceptance of the 20-year agreement means that Upstate New York Power Corp. can now move forward with procuring the necessary permits for the project.

Earlier in the day, the developer of the proposed Galloo Island Wind Farm has offered a $3.5 million community fund and job guarantees in a last-minute effort to entice Jefferson County legislators to vote for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement.

But at Tuesday's Legislature meeting, Legislature Chairman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River, said the $3.5 million agreed to for community development by Upstate NY Power Corp is not new money, but cash the developer planned on spreading through the community anyway.

"Since some of the legislators were not happy with just verbal comments, we asked them to put it in writing," he said. "I want to stress it's not new money."

A memo from Mr. Blankenbush, R-Black River, sent out at 3:20 p.m. Tuesday outlined three promises from Upstate NY Power Corp.

Mr. Blankenbush wrote to the other legislators that the developer had made a "formal commitment" to donate $3 million over 20 years to a community fund to benefit residents of the county through youth and civic groups, nonprofits, educational organizations and other charitable organizations.

The developer would put $500,000 to a scholarship fund for high school seniors.

On jobs, the developer must bring half of the labor from local trade unions through a project labor agreement. One-quarter of the jobs will come from outside the region. The final quarter must come from Jefferson County. But if that does not happen, for every percentage point that does not come from the county, the developer will pay $25,000 to a local vocational or education program.

"The key is that specific terms will be permanently included in the binding project documents," Mr. Blankenbush worte.

Those documents are finalized with the PILOT agreement by the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency. The proposed 20-year PILOT would begin with $2.14 million in payments divided by the county, town of Hounsfield and Sackets Harbor Central School District. They would increase by 2.5 percent each year, plus supplemental payments if higher electricity costs prevail.

In his memo, Mr. Blankenbush said the county legislature could also consider a resolution to change the county's priority in terms of a transmission line route for the project. The county had originally promoted an all-underwater route from Galloo Island to Scriba as opposed to the developer's proposal of overland through southern Jefferson County and Oswego County.

Instead, the legislature could push for an overland route that ended at the Coffeen Street substation. That would obligate the developer to upgrade the substation to increase its capacity.

Legislator Scott A. Gray, R-Watertown, called the memo "political gamesmanship" and said the attempt is to draw a few more votes to support the PILOT.

"It's moving in the right direction, but why do they have to wait until three hours before a vote to send it out?" asked Mr. Gray.

"It's like at the before the last vote, when they offered to go to an 18-year PILOT."


Source: http://www.watertowndailyti...

FEB 2 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/24430-jefferson-county-legislators-approve-galloo-island-wind-farm
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