Library filed under Taxes & Subsidies from New Hampshire
The NH House Science Technology and Energy Committee narrowly voted Tuesday to gut energy-efficiency funding through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and roll back the state’s renewable energy standard, in a move that one Republic denounced as partisan and a Democrat called “nuts.”
Utilities claim individual municipalities have different ways of determining the value of properties for tax purposes, which in many cases they believe overvalues them. The result is constant litigation between towns and utilities.
The money was handed over after the select board approved an extension to its PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) with Antrim Wind Energy. The change extends the timeframe that the company has to go online, pushing the date from Dec. 31, 2018 to that same day in 2019.
ANTRIM NH - Antrim select board members renegotiated an agreement made between the town and a wind energy company during a public hearing on Monday evening.
House budget writers voted Thursday to keep the state university system funded at current levels and raid $50 million from the renewable energy fund to avoid $68 million in cuts - and hundreds of layoffs - in the Department of Transportation.
Pulses were raised Monday night at the Antrim Select Board meeting, when resident Richard Block asked the board to read a memorandum he had written, criticizing the board on how it conducts town business, specifically when it comes to handling the Antrim Wind project. Meanwhile, the wind farm developer says it is poised to bring the plan forward once again, despite its previous rejection.
"The Wind Protection Tax Credit is a federal tax subsidy that has enabled wind developers to develop projects in New Hampshire, which has marginal to poor wind resources,” Lerner said. “We need to act now to let our delegation know that we do not support any extension of the PTC.”
The decision followed about an hour of public testimony, including comments from several attendees who raised concerns about recent changes in the size and scope of the Jericho project, the project’s reliability and how the wind power would be used. “I do not believe the appropriate due diligence has been completed,” said Lori Lerner, president of New Hampshire Wind Watch. She questioned the project’s economic benefit to the state, since she said it doesn’t create many long-term jobs, and she recommended the bond be denied.
On Wednesday, Gov. Maggie Hassan settled the dispute over the valuation of the wind farm in Dixville and Millsfield by signing into law HB 1590.
In 2008 the three Coos County commissioners – Tom Brady, Bing Judd and Paul Grenier – picked $113 million as the value of the wind farm and thus the basis for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes. But in 2012 the state’s Department of Revenue Administration concluded the wind farm was really worth about double that. ... since most of the wind farm is in tiny Millsfield, it suddenly owed about $800,000 to the state.
The county established the Utility Valuation Defense Fund as a response to what county officials said was a broad-based effort by utilities to challenge municipal assessments throughout New Hampshire. The situation is particularly acute in Coos County where the utilities appear to be “trying to pick off small towns one at a time,” through legal action that the towns are hard-pressed to respond to.
The court decision, however, may become moot because the legislature this session passed a bill that sets the value of the wind farm at $113 million – the figure used by the county in calculating a Payment In Lieu of Tax (PILOT) agreement with Granite Reliable Power.
The DRA concluded the wind farm was valued at $228 million – more than twice the $113 million value locked in by the PILOT agreement. But because Granite Reliable couldn’t be forced to pay any more than what was called for under the PILOT, tiny Millsfield suddenly owed the state around $800,000. That was a scary thing to residents who were suddenly confronted with the possibility of a huge tax increase.
All ten residential property owners in Millsfield filed for 2013 property tax abatements under a poverty exemption. The owners are arguing the Granite Reliable Power wind farm has increased property taxes and made it impossible to sell their properties in the unincorporated town.
The Coos County commissioners took their concerns about the wind park and its spike in equalized valuation and taxes in two unincorporated places before the N.H. Supreme Court last week in a case that could have statewide ramifications. The commissioners are appealing the July decision by the New Hampshire Board of Tax and Land Appeals that upheld the total equalized valuation set by the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration for the unincorporated places of Millsfield and Dixville.
What's the real cost of wind power? For New Hampshire, it’s nearly $10 million in handouts to big business. They paid that much money in 2012 so that multi-national corporations could experiment with wind power on the taxpayer dime — and yet more than $4 million of that money wound up going to companies in other states.
“(The Alexandria selectmen) want to hear your feelings about the specific agreement Iberdrola has proposed, so they can report to the Site Evaluation Committee not just about the vote from last year but reactions directly regarding the specific agreement sent to the town a few weeks ago.”
The city's share of the 2013 Coos County tax bill will drop by $129,230 because of the higher valuations assessed to the unincorporated places of Millsfield and Dixville. Millsfield's share of the county tax, however, will increase by $844,807 – from $32,138 to $876,945. Dixville's share of the county tax increases from just over half a percent to 1.8 percent or from $83,503 to $264,788.
The Coos County Commissioners have voted to award the valuation appraisal contract for the Granite Reliable Power wind farm to George E. Sansoucy LLC of Lancaster. The county is locked in a legal battle with the state Department of Revenue Administration over the valuation of the wind farm components in the unincorporated places of Millsfield and Dixville.
The higher valuation for the wind park has driven up the total equalized valuations for Millsfield and Dixville, which contain the majority of the wind park. Millsfield's equalized valuation went from $6.4 million to $180 million while Dixville's went from $16.7 million to $54.4 million. Millsfield residents have said they fear the tax rate there will jump as high as $60 per thousand.