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MALONE – Two wind-energy facilities under review in Franklin County would pump between $25 million and $75 million into the local economy during construction and $1.45 million to $3.8 million a year after that.
The results of a cost-benefit analysis secured through the Franklin County Industrial Development Agency also found that Noble Environmental Power would make about an 8-percent return on its investment each year of operation.
And the company hopes to begin construction on the two wind farms by October.
Kent Gardner, president and chief economist for the Center of Governmental Research, shared the results of his firm’s study with county legislators in Malone last week, saying the wind-farm projects in the towns of Chateaugay and Bellmont would have little negative impact on the North Country.
Noble is in joint negotiations with the townships to build a wind-energy project in each jurisdiction.
Noble Chateaugay Windpark would have 72 turbines across 5,700 acres in easement deals worked out with 62 landowners.
Noble Bellmont Windpark would have 14 turbines across 800 acres in easement deals with three landowners.
All 86 of the 1.5 megawatt turbines would be 265 feet tall and have a trio of fiberglass blades that reach a span of 390 feet.
The company would also build access roads and electric-transmission lines as part of the projects that would be situated south of U.S. Route 11 and east of State Route 374.
Gardner said his study found that the cost for the wind parks on community services such as fire protection “are negligible” as are the negative impacts in property values.
He said other development would not be prohibited or limited by the presence of wind farms and, in fact, tourism may increase as a result.
And that increase in visitors and added money in the pocketbooks of the landowners hosting the wind farms means a potential yet small increase in sales-tax revenue for the county, Gardner said.
Noble would be renting wind from two municipalities, a school district and the county, he said.
Other ways the project would impact the region’s economy in the short term and long term would be through job creation.
Noble expects to provide about 540 jobs during the construction phase of the projects that will include suppliers, direct payroll and local merchants and 38 jobs during regular operations.
But unless agreements are secured for payment-in-lieu-of-taxes projects, neither facility wind park will be built.
Noble attorney Mark Lyons said the company puts the bulk of its capital investment for wind farms up-front, building the individual towers for the wind parks with the expectation that it will not have to pay property taxes on each one.
“We won’t do it at full taxation,” he said of the project.
But in exchange for the tax breaks over a negotiated period of time, he said the company generally pays an annual host fee to the communities, in this case Bellmont and Chateaugay, as well as Franklin County and the Chateaugay Central School District.
Based on numbers negotiated with townships in Clinton County that have Noble Windpark projects already under construction, these entities would split more than $1 million a year among themselves.
Part of the money goes to a community-investment fund that would be used toward a large-scale project that benefits the entire county rather than to meet smaller, short-term economic-development goals.
By Denise A. Raymo
22 July 2007
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