Library filed under Taxes & Subsidies from New York
Has the controversy over wind power blown away in Howard? Fewer than 20 residents came out to a Steuben County Industrial Development Agency hearing Thursday evening on a proposed Payment In Lieu of Taxes Agreement with EverPower Renewables, a New York-based company planning to build 25 wind turbines south of Howard. Two people made comments to SCIDA Executive Director James Sherron. ...In exchange for the tax breaks, EverPower will sign on for a 20-year payment plan to give funds to the Town of Howard - which will receive 24 percent - the Canisteo-Greenwood Central School District will get nearly 60 percent and Steuben County the rest.
Two school districts claim they won't get their fair share of tax payments from a wind farm development planned for the Prattsburgh area. Charging deliberate attempts to prevent them from receiving proper payments, two local school districts filed lawsuits recently against the town of Prattsburgh and Steuben County Industrial Development Agency, and other agencies. The lawsuits filed by both the Prattsburgh and Naples school districts allege the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for the yet-to-be-built 36-turbine wind farm project creates a significant loss in anticipated revenues for the schools. Both districts want the tax agreement thrown out.
For counties with wind farm development, there's no one way to slice the pie of tax-break agreements. As town, school district and county officials in Jefferson County look around the state for guidance in dividing money for tax-break agreements with local wind farms, they won't get much help. Across New York, there are at least four wind farms with some sort of tax-break agreement. Some relied on tax distribution to indicate how to divide the money, while others weighted towns heavily.
Two local school district claim they aren't getting their fair share of tax payments from a wind farm development in the Prattsburgh area. Charging deliberate attempts to prevent them from receiving proper payments, two local school districts filed lawsuits recently against the Town of Prattsburgh and Steuben County Industrial Development Agency, and other agencies. The lawsuits filed by both the Prattsburgh and Naples school districts allege the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for the 36-turbine wind farm project creates a significant loss in anticipated revenues for the schools.
Town officials convinced that wind farms are coming to Jefferson County are jockeying to see if they can divert millions of dollars in potential tax revenue to their governments and away from school districts, which generally would receive the majority of taxes raised from the creation of each turbine. In an average payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement, school districts can expect to receive from 50 percent to 60 percent of property taxes from any given property owner. Jefferson County would receive the next-highest amount and towns would get the least. ...Using the Thousand Islands district numbers, if a deal followed a normal PILOT agreement, the school districts could expect about $570,000, the county $370,000 and the towns $60,000.
The pros and cons of wind power will be on the minds of many Herkimer County residents as officials move forward with tax negotiations for two projects proposed in the county. County officials have been in talks for a payment in lieu of taxes agreement for the Hard Scrabble Wind Farm planned for the towns of Fairfield and Norway. The Jordanville Wind project designed for the towns of Warren and Stark also has been brought into the discussions in recent weeks, county Administrator James Wallace said.
"While renewable energy technologies can be more expensive than conventional sources in the first instance, the environmental, economic growth and public health benefits from their use justify the public investment," the Paterson report states flat-out. I would argue that this statement should be viewed as a working hypothesis, and doesn't deserve yet to be considered a proven fact. How expensive is too expensive? Which conventional sources? Some are far more polluting than others, for example. That quote from the report shows us the zeal of the alternative energies movement. With that zeal comes a touch of arrogance, because if you read through the Paterson report recommendations, there are thinly veiled justifications for running roughshod over local zoning and the opinions of those who actually have to live with solar panels, wind turbines or whatever. "The greater good" argument is just beneath the surface, and that makes me very nervous.
Supervisors from towns with wind projects want to see host community agreements in their towns as a part of any tax breaks for wind power developers. The Jefferson County Board of Legislators heard from the county's counsel on negotiations, Kevin R. McAuliffe, Tuesday night. He advocated negotiating only payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements. But the supervisors want to see PILOT and host community agreements. "We think it's only fair," Hounsfield Supervisor Jean H. Derouin said. "We have the legal expertise to make it a binding contract.
"A wind farm is not going to occur unless there is a tax relief," said Syracuse Attorney Kevin McAuliffe.
Jefferson County's counsel on negotiations with wind farm developers told the Board of Legislators that a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement through the Industrial Development Agency would be preferable to a host-community agreement for the disbursement of any funds from the developers. "Host-community payments don't have any statutory basis," attorney Kevin R. McAuliffe said during a presentation to legislators Tuesday. "Aren't we better off going with an agreement that is enforceable and has meaningful economic expectations?" Mr. McAuliffe, Syracuse, was retained in November after helping Lewis County with its PILOT negotiations with wind power developers. First, he reminded legislators that no wind farms would develop without granting tax breaks to the developers.
Lawmakers in Jefferson County are about to get a crash course in wind farms and the revenue they generate. Tomorrow, the Board of Legislators will meet with Syracuse attorney Kevin McAuliffe, who specializes in payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreements relating to wind projects. Because there are a number of wind farm proposals in the county, lawmakers are looking into ways PILOT programs can be structured. In any PILOT deal with a wind farm developer, money is paid to the county, school districts and municipalities where the turbines are located. Legislature Chairman Ken Blankenbush said he'd like to see a uniform PILOT deal - a one-size-fits-all package for every wind company.
Many area residents voiced their concerns - some by talking softly, some by yelling - over a proposed tax reduction for the Cohocton wind power projects Friday morning. The hearing, hosted by the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency, was a way for SCIDA board members to receive some specific community input on a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement the board is negotiating with Canandaigua Power Partners and Canandaigua Power Partners II, according to SCIDA Executive Director James Sherron. "This meeting is for you, the public to be allowed the opportunity to give comment relative to what the IDA has been asked to do," Sherron said, adding SCIDA's jurisdiction extended only to financial assistance. ...Cohocton Wind Watch ringleader James Hall, in his 11-minute speach, told Sherron he did not approve of giving a PILOT with lower payment rates than what UPC had previously said was budgeted for the project. "In writing, in the formal application, (UPC) admitted, and said publicly, they're willing to pay $4.5 million in taxes," Hall said. "Not bad. Sounds like we might even drop a lot of our opposition. I'd like my taxes to go down."
“I’m not sure everyone knows what they are voting on,” Bono, District 11, said prior to the vote. ...information included guidelines for the contract negotiation, which include a proposal for a payment in lieu of taxes of $8,000 per megawatt, for a total of $640,000 on an 80 megawatt project. The information also said that the county would receive a one-time payment of $360,000 to $400,000 in its general fund for use on other projects such as the construction of a new county correctional facility. “One of my main concerns is how can I justify an 85 percent tax break for this company and not for anyone else,” Bono said. “We want to attract businesses to Herkimer County, but we cannot give 85 percent tax breaks to everyone. We need to continue to work with the numbers.”
Some Franklin County legislators were angry when the final tax-break agreement was reached for the Noble Chateaugay Windpark and Noble Bellmont Windpark. During talks to determine how much Noble would pay taxing jurisdictions in lieu of full tax value, the Franklin County Industrial Development Agency, each township and the Chateaugay Central School District had representatives there, but no one apparently represented the county. ...We would seem to be in the middle of a jurisdictional collision. Individual taxpayers may compute or consult their tax bills to see where their allegiance lies, but, when the negotiations are eventually concluded, all parties should realize that the interests of those taxpayers are more important than it is for any of the boards to look good to their constituents by having forged the best deal. This very much needs to be a cooperative arrangement.
When LIPA ...first proposed the offshore wind project in 2003, costs were estimated at $200 million. The company said it would have little to no impact on electricity rates. That was the last published cost estimate until fall 2006, when under a Freedom of Information Law request from Newsday, the power authority released the original, winning bid from FPL Energy of Florida: $356 million. The price increases didn't stop there. ..."Long Islanders shouldn't believe for one minute that any major form of renewable energy is going to be cheaper than traditional resources produced by oil or natural gas," Kessel wrote.
Lingering hard feelings over negotiations for wind-farm-tax agreements last month may lead Franklin County to create a planning department. ... Thursday, when IDA Executive Director Brad Jackson came before the County Legislature's Economic Planning and Development Committee, he was criticized for not doing enough to look out for the county's interest at the negotiating table. Saranac Lake Democrat Timothy Burpoe said legislators thought Jackson was supposed to be the county's representative in the room. Burpoe said higher megawatt figures could have been obtained with a tougher stance against Noble and the towns. But because a deadline was imposed to reach the deal quickly, Burpoe said, he and some other legislators felt pressure to settle for a deal even though the county ended up with the smallest share.
The Lackawanna City Council on Monday unanimously adopted a law that would allow the city to collect property taxes on a portion of the Steel Winds turbine project. By state law, renewable energy projects, like the partially completed Steel Winds farm along Lake Erie on the old Bethlehem Steel site, are tax-exempt. However, municipalities that host such projects are allowed to opt out if they adopt a local law rescinding that tax exemption, which the Lackawanna Council did Monday at its regular meeting.
Wake up, New Jersey, before more of your tax dollars are wasted on Gov. Corzine's offshore wind farm. ...In these hard financial times, our state and federal governments need to invest taxpayer dollars more wisely than they have. Alternative energy sources are needed, but they must make financial sense. Windmills on land are borderline cost-effective, and that's only because of energy subsidies. Windmills in the north Atlantic never will come close to recovering their cost. If something doesn't make financial sense, we should be looking at who will benefit from its construction. New Jersey citizens will not benefit from this ocean wind farm. Electric costs will rise because of it. Someone needs to follow the money to see who will benefit.
Boston utility NStar's plan to let customers buy wind-generated electricity is running into a gale of opposition from a rival "green power" provider, who said yesterday NStar's program would violate state law. Although Attorney General Martha Coakley and the Conservation Law Foundation, a Boston legal-environmental group, are backing the NStar plan, Larry Chretien, executive director of the Massachusetts Energy Consumers Alliance, said it violates the 1997 state utility restructuring law. That law, Chretien said, limits utilities to being "distribution companies" that deliver power that customers buy through the utility from independent third-party energy producers and means NStar can't legally become the supplier of power through contracts with wind farms in upstate New York and Maine. NStar plans to begin offering wind power by Jan. 1, pending state approval.
The Boston utility NStar plans to allow its residential and small business customers to buy their electricity from environmentally friendly wind farms - for a price. In a first of its kind for Massachusetts utilities, NStar is proposing to let its 1.1 million electric customers in Boston and 80 eastern Massachusetts cities and towns buy their power directly from a wind farm in upstate New York and a second under development in Maine. Because the wind farms are more expensive than conventional sources like coal and nuclear power, a typical homeowner would pay a premium of about $7.50 to $15 monthly. The program, being announced today, will need approval from state utility regulators before it is launched, which could be as soon as Jan. 1.