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Officials to discuss wind power, TIF district  

A Washington County Enterprise Development and Tax Increment Financing District will be the subject of a meeting next week in front of the Washington County Commission.

And the meeting has to do with wind power.

Evergreen Wind Power V, a wholly owned subsidiary of UPC Wind Partners, a wind power development company, is seeking a TIF agreement with the county. The company operates a similar facility in Mars Hill.

The commission has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed TIF agreement for 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, at the county courthouse.

An open house will be held this Wednesday from 1 to 4 p.m. at the site of the proposed $100 million project on Stetson Mountain and from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Danforth town hall.

The company is seeking approval of a TIF agreement to ensure the economic viability of the project and shelter the Unorganized Territory in the county from the negative effects of increased taxable value the project normally would have, such as decreased revenue sharing, the company said in its handout.

The proposed project would include 38 turbines, meteorological towers, main and spur roads, a power collection system, general and turbine-specific lay-down areas, an electrical substation and an operations and maintenance facility, the handout said.

The proposed district would include 4,800 acres in Township 8, Range 3 and Range 4, known as the Stetson Mountain Tract. The district would include additional land in Brookton Township, known as the Baskahegan Lake Tract. Both tracts are within the Unorganized Territory of Washington County.

“None of the land was acquired by eminent domain; they all are willing sellers,” County Manager Linda Pagels-Wentworth said Monday. She said when residents expressed concerns about the routing of the transmission line the company changed its proposed plan.

Representatives of UPC Wind have described Stetson Mountain – located between the communities of Danforth and Springfield – as an excellent location for a wind energy facility because of the remote location, existing road network and steady winds, the Bangor Daily News has reported.

The plan has been criticized in the past because of noise levels for nearby residents. Underscoring the local residents’ fears, several unhappy neighbors of UPC’s wind energy facility in Mars Hill told the Land Use Regulation Commission last month that the noise ranges from a steady swooshing sound to a thumping sound like a boot in a dryer.

If approved, the $100 million project is expected to generate enough pollution-free energy to power 27,500 Maine homes, although the electricity would actually feed into the New England power grid.

“This facility,” Pagels-Wentworth said, “will generate as much electricity as Washington County uses.” The owners plan to continue to operate the project once it is up and running, she said.

A TIF agreement is needed, Pagels-Wentworth said, to keep money in the county. “Otherwise any taxes paid in the UT go to the state and is spread across the whole UT area in the state,” she said. “Whereas if it’s a Tax Increment Finance District we can capture some of this money to make investments within Washington County. This has never been done before in the UT.”

Pagels-Wentworth said the county was looking to use the money for economic development planning and a revolving loan fund, “with an emphasis on the expansion of tourism and nature-based businesses that could take place in the UT,” she said.

If approved, it would be a 20-year agreement.

(c) 2007 Bangor Daily News.

25 September 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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