Town of Cohocton, 2 Steuben school districts to get payments in lieu of taxes.
COHOCTON – UPC Wind, developer of two Steuben County wind farms, has agreed to pay $14.5 million in lieu of taxes over the next 20 years.
The company announced the agreement with the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency on Monday.
The county agency will administer the payments, which will go to the town of Cohocton, the Wayland-Cohocton Central School District and the Avoca School District, UPC Wind said in a news release.
The agreement covers payments in lieu of taxes on the developer’s Cohocton and Dutch Hill wind power projects.
Construction of the Cohocton project began last fall. When the Dutch Hill project is completed, a total of 50 2.5-megawatt wind turbines will produce enough power annually to supply 54,000 homes.
“We are pleased to have finalized our agreement with (Steuben County IDA) putting in place the second major component of our economic package for the town of Cohocton and surrounding communities,” said Chris Swartley, director of business development for UPC Wind.
Swartley said the company also will pay the town of Cohocton $11.5 million over the first 20 years of the project as part of a “host” agreement.
James P. Sherron, chairman of the Industrial Development Agency, said the new agreement will help reduce pressure on property taxes, support the region’s schools, strengthen local services and contribute to the overall welfare of the community.
“It is through agreements such as this that we can secure the new investment and job opportunities that will contribute to advancing the general prosperity of Steuben County,” Sherron said.
UPC Wind said it made its first $725,000 payment under the host agreement to the town of Cohocton in January. The company said that offset about 30 percent of the town property tax levy.
“We applaud the completion of the second major component of the economic agreement between UPC Wind and the community,” said Jack Ziegenfus, Cohocton town supervisor.
James Hall, a spokesman for windmill project opponent Cohocton Wind Watch, said the figures in the new agreement conflict with earlier information provided to the group by the Industrial Development Agency.
“A quick calculation on my part (from provided figures) shows the pilot comes to about $5.7 million,” Hall said. “That’s quite a stretch from the $14 million in their press release.”
Hall said there is also an escape clause in the host community agreement that allows UPC Wind to pull out without paying under certain conditions.
Cohocton Wind Watch has gone to Steuben County Court in an effort to block both projects.
“We feel very confident … special use permits issued by the Cohocton Planning Board will be revoked and the entire project will have to halt all construction,” Hall said.
The wind farm developer is based in Newton, Mass.
By Larry Wilson
4 march 2008
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