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Officials snubbed advisers' warnings about wind farm

Two separate Northumberland County boards of commissioners were cautioned since 2006 by three legal advisers about "shortcomings" in a Sunbury firm's wind farm proposal. At issue is the land-lease agreement between the county and Penn Wind, a 29-year deal that is in the midst of being renewed and has been in jeopardy for months.

SUNBURY - Two separate Northumberland County boards of commissioners were cautioned since 2006 by three legal advisers about "shortcomings" in a Sunbury firm's wind farm proposal.

At issue is the land-lease agreement between the county and Penn Wind, a 29-year deal that is in the midst of being renewed and has been in jeopardy for months.

The two sides are hoping to keep the project afloat and plan to meet early next week.

Commissioner Vinny Clausi, who has loudly voiced his displeasure with the financial details and discrepancy about the amount of land involved, and Commissioner Kurt Masser said they're optimistic about reaching an agreement.

Since 2007, the county has been leasing land in Coal and East Cameron townships to the company for $1 a year, with an agreement that the county would receive $56,000 a year once the site begins generating wind energy.

Late last week, Penn Wind CEO Justin Dunkelberger revealed the company's intention to sell the lease to an unidentified California company for $1 million and allow it to set up wind turbines on the land.

Masser said he was surprised to learn an outside company might be stepping in, but said he's willing to work with any business... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

SUNBURY - Two separate Northumberland County boards of commissioners were cautioned since 2006 by three legal advisers about "shortcomings" in a Sunbury firm's wind farm proposal.

At issue is the land-lease agreement between the county and Penn Wind, a 29-year deal that is in the midst of being renewed and has been in jeopardy for months.

The two sides are hoping to keep the project afloat and plan to meet early next week.

Commissioner Vinny Clausi, who has loudly voiced his displeasure with the financial details and discrepancy about the amount of land involved, and Commissioner Kurt Masser said they're optimistic about reaching an agreement.

Since 2007, the county has been leasing land in Coal and East Cameron townships to the company for $1 a year, with an agreement that the county would receive $56,000 a year once the site begins generating wind energy.

Late last week, Penn Wind CEO Justin Dunkelberger revealed the company's intention to sell the lease to an unidentified California company for $1 million and allow it to set up wind turbines on the land.

Masser said he was surprised to learn an outside company might be stepping in, but said he's willing to work with any business that's able to bring jobs and revenue to the county.

"I want to do what's right for the taxpayer," he said, agreeing that the county should reap more financially from the project.

Masser played down the impact of political contributions he received from Penn Wind representatives during the 2007 election, including $600 from James Garman and $500 from Chris Purdy, both of Sunbury, and $100 from Dunkelberger, of Northumberland.

"If I was pushing to get (the deal) done, it might be an issue," Masser said. "But I've been saying all along that we should put our concerns on the table and lay out what we want."

He said that will likely occur when commissioners return to the negotiating table with Penn Wind next week.

And, Masser said, "Unless everyone can agree to the terms, I won't vote for it."

Even before the first contract was signed in 2007, then-county solicitor Guy Schlesinger raised questions about whether the county would receive its fair share. The former board, headed by Samuel Deitrick, along with Masser and Frank Sawicki, went ahead with the contract to lease about 500 acres for $1 a year until a 23-acre site is developed.

In 2008, solicitor Hugh Jones wrote to the commissioners recommending the contract not be signed.

He cited "shortcomings" in the deal cited by former planning Director Steve Bartos, including the lack of provisions for giving the county a percentage of the wind energy revenue and failure to place a limit on how long Penn Wind can lease the property at $1 a year without developing the site.

Despite the concerns addressed by Jones, the current board - Sawicki, Masser and Vinny Clausi - signed the deal for another year.

Assistant solicitor Kymberley Best added her concerns about the project last week in a letter in which she described the contract as "disadvantageous" to the county.

On Friday, three days after Best's letter was written, the commissioners learned that Penn Wind planned to sell its lease and allow an outside company to develop the site.


Source: http://www.dailyitem.com/01...

JAN 22 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/24257-officials-snubbed-advisers-warnings-about-wind-farm
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