Article

County has face-to-face with U.S. Wind Force reps

Finally face-to-face, the Mineral County Commissioners questioned representatives of U.S. Wind Force Tuesday evening, sticking to the topics that would directly affect the county and its residents. At the top of the question list was the subject of taxes, and how much the company expects to pay into the county once the 23 wind turbines are in place on Green Mountain.

KEYSER - Finally face-to-face, the Mineral County Commissioners questioned representatives of U.S. Wind Force Tuesday evening, sticking to the topics that would directly affect the county and its residents.

At the top of the question list was the subject of taxes, and how much the company expects to pay into the county once the 23 wind turbines are in place on Green Mountain.

Distributing an estimated tax table to the commissioners, David Friend, vice president of sales and marketing for US Wind Force, told the official that the estimation of taxes has "changed over time as the project has changed," but the current estimates are based on a spreadsheet.

"The State Tax Department validated the process" of estimating the taxes, he said, adding that he feels Wind Force officials made their estimations "a little on the conservative side."

With that in mind, total county/state tax revenue in the first year was estimated at $460,312, with $131,787 of that going to the county, $326,591 to the county school system, and $1,933 to the state.

Those figures go up and down over the succeeding years, Friend said, due to the way the formula works out.

"But we expect the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

KEYSER - Finally face-to-face, the Mineral County Commissioners questioned representatives of U.S. Wind Force Tuesday evening, sticking to the topics that would directly affect the county and its residents.

At the top of the question list was the subject of taxes, and how much the company expects to pay into the county once the 23 wind turbines are in place on Green Mountain.

Distributing an estimated tax table to the commissioners, David Friend, vice president of sales and marketing for US Wind Force, told the official that the estimation of taxes has "changed over time as the project has changed," but the current estimates are based on a spreadsheet.

"The State Tax Department validated the process" of estimating the taxes, he said, adding that he feels Wind Force officials made their estimations "a little on the conservative side."

With that in mind, total county/state tax revenue in the first year was estimated at $460,312, with $131,787 of that going to the county, $326,591 to the county school system, and $1,933 to the state.

Those figures go up and down over the succeeding years, Friend said, due to the way the formula works out.

"But we expect the average to be more than $431,000. That number is an average over 25 years," he said.

According to the chart, total tax revenue realized from the project in a 25-year period would be $10.8 million, with approximately $3.1 million going to the county, $7.7 million going to the county school system, and $45,500 going to the state.

Commissioner Cindy Pyles noted that the revenue would go into the county's general revenue.

In addition to the tax revenue, Friend said U.S, Wind Force is committing approximately $50,000 in the first year and $25,000 each year after that for various programs and projects in the community.

The commissioners also asked the developers what arrangements they would make in regard to removing the wind turbines once they have exceeded their useful life span.

Friend noted that, when the company signs a lease with a landowner, the documentation includes the requirement that U.S. Wind Force set up an escrow account for decommissioning of the structures. The amount in the account is readjusted as independent engineers periodically calculate the cost of removing the turbines, based on the devaluation of the structure.

Noting that "the commission is 100 percent for every job that we can get," Commission President Wayne Spiggle asked the representatives how many jobs they expected to bring into the area and if local labor would be utilized.
"We have an agreement with local labor," Friend said, noting that the company hires as many local workers as they can.

The idea, he said, makes sense both for the workers and the company.
"If you hire someone from Illinois, as soon as he can he's going to go back to Illinois," he said, noting the stability of local workers.

Friend said he estimated 150-200 workers would be needed during the construction phase, which is expected to take nine months to a year.

"We are very much committed to hiring local folks. The item we don't know the answer to is how many local workers will be available," added Jim Cookman, vice president for Wind Force project development.

When Spiggle questioned the representatives about Wind Force's request for a waiver of certain regulations set forth by the West Virginia Public Service Commission, attorney Chris Callas told him that a wind turbine farm is not considered a public utility and therefore does not fall under some PSC regulations.

"There are no captive rate payers and no rates set by the Public Service Commission," he said, explaining that the wind farms do not sell the power directly to customers.

Callas did note, however, that the PSC has oversight in other areas of the company's operation.

Lastly, Spiggle questioned the group about the wear and tear on the county's roads during the construction phase and what measures they were planning to take to insure that interruption of traffic flow would be kept at a minimum.
Friend said the 23 turbines which are expected to be erected would be brought into the area in 10 oversize truck loads per turbine, which would include four for the tower sections, three for the blades, and three for the generator and various other parts.

"The heaviest load will be 65 tons," Friend said. "Each blade is about 12 ½ tons. It's not overweight; it's oversized."

Friend said the trucks would travel U.S. Route 220 through Keyser, Route 93 to Scherr, Route 42 to U.S. Route 50, and then over to Pinnacle Road.

"We are not taking them up Green Mountain Road," he said, noting that that was one of the rumors which had been circulating around the project.

As far as expecting the traffic to cause any undue wear and tear on the highways, Friend said, "You've already seen turbines come through mostly the same path we're going to use. My question to you is, did you have road impact from the Ned Power project?"

No comments or questions were allowed from the audience of approximately 20 persons, but the Wind Force representatives did meet with several of the audience members one-on-one following the meeting.


Source: http://www.newstribune.info...

JUN 25 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/20832-county-has-face-to-face-with-u-s-wind-force-reps
back to top