From the very beginning, Reunion Power has presented its offer of restitution for placing wind turbines in the town of Cherry Valley as generous. But the offer of $300,000 per year in lieu of taxes to be divided among the town, county, and school is a constant, with no adjustment for inflation costs or the company’s future profits, profits perhaps in the hundreds of millions. Plus these annual payments are to last only 20 years. Then what? Will Reunion start paying taxes or will the company walk away?
Reunion has also offered to pay a percentage of electric rates for residential accounts. That means not school, municipal, or business accounts. And check the fine print. The amount offered has a cap, covering only 480 kilowatts per month _ a little more than a dollar a day at current rates. Moreover, the delivery charge on the electric bill _ typically about half the bill _ will not be reduced. And electric bills are projected to keep climbing anyway.
As for those in Cherry Valley most directly affected by the giant towers and turbines, in addition to the relatively small payments offered to lessees for hosting them, Reunion is offering insultingly low sums to neighbors of lessees for easement agreements.
Another point receiving little attention: the Cherry Valley development also affects residents of neighboring towns, especially those of Sharon Springs and Roseboom with lands part of the complex of hills referred to as East Hill. One town should not have the right to affect other towns to such a degree without achieving neighborly consensus and shared restitution.
Until pressed, Reunion representatives have ignored citizens of these neighboring communities, and no offers have been presented to them.
Reunion has been using the phrase “sweetening the deal.” Is this an admission that the offer hasn’t been or still isn’t sweet enough? Reunion has also been stating, “wait until our application is in” to provide all the financial and environmental details of their offers. What strategy is this? Like the legendary Trojan Horse? Get in, then ravage?
As Reunion Power continues to be greeted with passionate resistance, its offers will no doubt go up because of the enormous profits involved. It began by low-balling and it continues to low-ball. But how can one put a price on the losses incurred from this industrial development, including degradation of landscape, viewshed, wildlife, watershed, and communications (interference with emergency radio and cell phone transmissions), as well as the lowering of property values? And what about additional unknown losses from such potential problems as fires and oil leaks?
At the very least, any such large-scale industrial development should be a true partnership between affected townships and a development company. The townships provide the landscape and viewshed, and the company provides investment capital.
Then both sides share equally in profits. Why should a few carpet bagging profiteers get the lion’s share?
Many of us who live here, even with a 50/50 deal, would very likely oppose such a life-changing industrial development, but at least the huge majority of profits would not go to outsiders.