The pros and cons of wind power will be on the minds of many Herkimer County residents as officials move forward with tax negotiations for two projects proposed in the county.
County officials have been in talks for a payment in lieu of taxes agreement for the Hard Scrabble Wind Farm planned for the towns of Fairfield and Norway.
The Jordanville Wind project designed for the towns of Warren and Stark also has been brought into the discussions in recent weeks, county Administrator James Wallace said.
The possible advantages and disadvantages of such projects were debated Thursday morning during a Herkimer County Community College Executive Breakfast.
After the discussion, Legislator John Piseck Jr., R-Ilion, said he remained in favor of the wind projects.
“These things do affect the economy,” Piseck said. “In economically depressed areas, we have to do something.”
Bill Moore, director of development for PPM Energy, talked about the advantages of a project, such as the company’s proposed 44-turbine endeavor planned for Fairfield and Norway.
The project could produce $18 million to $20 million in taxes over 15 to 20 years, pay $500,000 to local landowners each year, create five to seven full-time jobs and produce 150 jobs during construction, Moore said.
“Basically, what you have is an economic development project that also generates energy,” he said.
Lyme resident and energy consultant Frank Congel said he wasn’t familiar with specifics of the Herkimer County projects, but he laid out some of the concerns involved with wind projects in general.
Congel argued wind projects have low output and are unpredictable and expensive, with little if any reduction of greenhouse gases and without paying a fair share of taxes.
“I know we live in an area that has some economic problems, but very, very, carefully proceed with final decisions,” he said.
Herkimer County Administrator James Wallace said the decision about whether to proceed with the projects is up to the town officials. County officials will go along with what the towns want but have to try to negotiate fair tax payments for the benefit of all county residents, Wallace said.
The developers planning the Jordanville and Hard Scrabble projects are tied into the same company, so the intent is to reach the same PILOT agreement for both projects, county officials have said.
Negotiations have been “very active” in recent weeks, Wallace said.
Wallace said the arguments for and against wind power are parts of a difficult discussion he’s heard before.
“You have strong points on both sides,” he said.
Pros of wind power and specifically the Hard Scrabble Wind Farm, which proposes 44 wind turbines in the towns of Fairfield and Norway, according to Bill Moore, director of development for PPM Energy:
* Reduced use of fossil fuels.
* Production of enough energy to power thousands of homes in the state.
* $18 million to $20 million in taxes paid to Herkimer County, the towns and school districts over 15 to 20 years.
* About $500,000 per year to local landowners with property the turbines are located on.
* Five to seven full-time jobs.
* 150 jobs during construction.
Cons of wind power, according to Frank Congel, an energy consultant of Lyme:
* Wind projects have a relatively low energy output.
* Project developers don’t pay a fair share of income and property taxes.
* Electric bills are driven up because of surcharges that allow the state to reimburse wind companies.
* The development companies are often foreign owned.
* Projects result in minimal or negligent reduction of greenhouse gases.
* Only a small number of jobs are created.
The following wind projects have been proposed or discussed in Herkimer County:
* The Jordanville Wind project in Warren and Stark.
* The Hard Scrabble Wind Farm in Fairfield and Norway.
* A project in Manheim that is currently inactive.
* A smaller project discussed in Frankfort.
*Another smaller project discussed for at Herkimer County Community College.
By Bryon Ackerman
6 March 2008
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