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Wind PILOT; Approval doesn't answer questions

The irresponsible decision by the Jefferson County Legislature approving a tax abatement plan for the Galloo Island Wind Farm leaves unresolved several issues that will bedevil the county for years to come. A last-minute offer of another $3.5 million in community benefits by Upstate NY Power Corp. sweetened the deal sufficiently to win the eight votes needed for county approval of a 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan for the project. But that does not end the dispute.

The irresponsible decision by the Jefferson County Legislature approving a tax abatement plan for the Galloo Island Wind Farm leaves unresolved several issues that will bedevil the county for years to come.

A last-minute offer of another $3.5 million in community benefits by Upstate NY Power Corp. sweetened the deal sufficiently to win the eight votes needed for county approval of a 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan for the project. But that does not end the dispute.

The town of Hounsfield and Sackets Harbor School District have already signed off on the plan. It goes before the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency for final approval this morning with its shortcomings and even new problems raised after Upstate promised to create a $3 million community benefit fund with another $500,000 in scholarship funds over the life of the PILOT.

However, details remain to be ironed out. Who will administer the funds? An existing agency? A new board? Who will be eligible for the money? What criteria will be used to distribute the funds or award scholarships? What guarantees do we have that the money will be paid?

The $3.5 million amounts to $175,000 a year for the next two... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The irresponsible decision by the Jefferson County Legislature approving a tax abatement plan for the Galloo Island Wind Farm leaves unresolved several issues that will bedevil the county for years to come.

A last-minute offer of another $3.5 million in community benefits by Upstate NY Power Corp. sweetened the deal sufficiently to win the eight votes needed for county approval of a 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan for the project. But that does not end the dispute.

The town of Hounsfield and Sackets Harbor School District have already signed off on the plan. It goes before the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency for final approval this morning with its shortcomings and even new problems raised after Upstate promised to create a $3 million community benefit fund with another $500,000 in scholarship funds over the life of the PILOT.

However, details remain to be ironed out. Who will administer the funds? An existing agency? A new board? Who will be eligible for the money? What criteria will be used to distribute the funds or award scholarships? What guarantees do we have that the money will be paid?

The $3.5 million amounts to $175,000 a year for the next two decades. It is a fraction of the $9 million the county and municipalities could have had in sales taxes over the next two years. Upstate won't have to pay sales taxes under their leaseback agreement with JCIDA.

The deal looks even worse considering the $5 million county residents lose because Upstate's PILOT is five years longer than the standard PILOT other developers receive.

Is this the pattern for future wind PILOTs? The JCIDA failed in the mission assigned it by the Legislature years ago to draft a uniform policy applicable to wind developers looking to take advantage of a county asset. What the Legislature received - and approved - was an exception tailored to the Wall Street-driven interests of the developer. To the county's detriment, the Legislature and JCIDA have opened the door to other developers demanding the same favorable treatment.

County residents still don't know whose property the proposed transmission line will run through. Upstate said it would consider an alternative route to the Coffeen Street substation rather than running the line south through Henderson and Ellisburg to a substation in the town of Mexico. It doesn't solve problems, merely relocates them.

Where will the line come ashore? The alternative route would put likely landfall somewhere in the town of Hounsfield cutting through shoreline and resort properties. Eminent domain looms whether it is seizing farmland in Ellisburg or someone's front yard in Hounsfield.

The long, protracted debate over the PILOT changed little. The Legislature's majority has let down the people of Jefferson County.


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

FEB 4 2010
https://www.windaction.org/posts/24469-wind-pilot-approval-doesn-t-answer-questions
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