With wind farms due to break ground in Clinton County, there’s a lot of money riding on the breeze.
But when will the biggest bucks start flowing? The Town of Altona has already banked $68,000 in host-community cash from Noble Environmental Power – that’s $1,000 for each wind turbine the company intends to erect in its Altona Wind Park there.
That agreement includes $3,000 per tower, as well, said Town Supervisor Larry Ross, which won’t be affected by construction delays Noble is experiencing of late.
“I believe that’s Jan. 1,” Ross said.
The towns of Clinton and Ellenburg have those same deals with the wind-energy developer.
Ross, Ellenburg Town Supervisor James McNeil and other officials are beginning to wonder, however, just when they’ll go to the bank with their first payment-in-lieu-of-tax checks.
After all, the PILOT agreements were negotiated on a per-turbine-capacity basis of $5,000 per megawatt.
Does that mean the money – a total $1,425,000 the first year – won’t roll in until the towers are up?
“Under the PILOT agreement, it was the goal they would get their PILOT payments the first year after the building permits were issued,” said Adore Flynn Kurtz, executive director of the Clinton County Industrial Development Agency, which negotiated that deal.
And that understanding, between the taxing jurisdictions and Noble, has always been January 2007, she said.
Just now, official receipt of the building permits is held up by a few housekeeping-type details, such as agreement on road-reconstruction costs.
And the permits can’t be handed over until the Public Service Commission grants certificates of public convenience and necessity, Kurtz said.
That OK came through Wednesday for Clinton Wind Park, but Altona Wind Park and Ellenburg Wind Park will wait until at least next month’s Public Service Commission meeting for the same.
In the event that issuance of the building permits drags into next year, said Kurtz, the IDA may just change the language in the PILOT agreement that triggers payment.
Instead of building permits, she said, “the trigger may be the site-plan approval or the special-use permit … The taxing jurisdictions were eager to have their first payments come earlier rather than later.”
Along with the towns of Altona, Clinton and Ellenburg, Clinton County and Northern Adirondack and Chateaugay central schools are slated to benefit from the wind projects.
“Clinton County looks forward to the revenue associated with the PILOT agreement as soon as possible,” County Administrator Michael Zurlo said this week.
As the PILOT agreement hasn’t been finalized yet, Kurtz said, making changes to it isn’t a problem.
“We’re still in the review period of the final documents,” she said. “It’s not unusual at all.”
Finalizing PILOT is part of the larger picture, which entails IDA ownership of all three Noble projects.
Kurtz anticipates wrapping up the whole deal in the near future.
“We’re prepared to close virtually at a couple of days’ notice,” she said. “We’re ready to go.”
By: Suzanne Moore
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