Franklin County commissioners have scheduled a meeting March 25 to talk about the financial aspects of a tax-increment financing program for TransCanada’s proposed Kibby wind power project in Franklin County.
The plan is to talk about the project value, tax revenue projections and the impact on the county, state and the unorganized budgets, consultant Greg Mitchell said. He is working on behalf of the county to help negotiate a tax-increment financing deal between the Canadian company and the Franklin County Commission.
That meeting begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Franklin County Courthouse with the first part in public session and the other in executive session to discuss TransCanada’s TIF request.
TransCanada Energy Ltd. Project Manager Nick Di domenico told Franklin County commissioners in February that the company is interested in working with them to establish a tax-increment financing district for the wind farm similar to that established between Washington County Commission and UPC Wind for the Stetson Mountain wind project in 2007.
The structure of that TIF directed 60 percent of the revenues to help support the project’s development costs and the remaining 40 percent went to Washington County, with the revenues directed to the county’s economic development programs in the unorganized territories.
Mitchell presented a draft TIF process timeline to commissioners Tuesday that would see negotiations wrap up in May.
“It’s an aggressive schedule, but I think it’s doable,” Mitchell said.
The tentative timeline shows commissioners holding a public hearing on the TIF program and taking a vote on the TIF in early May. Before that, a public information meeting is scheduled during the evening of April 15.
The TransCanada Corp. board would also be deciding whether to move forward on the estimated $270 million project in May as well.
The application is anticipated to be filed with the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development in the latter part of May, according to the tentative schedule.
Mitchell said that he and Di domenico are meeting with representatives of Maine Revenue Service on Wednesday to talk about the project.
Di domenico said TransCanada would like to see negotiations on the TIF be completed by the first week in May so that the corporation’s board could make a decision on the project during its May meeting.
Maine Land Use Regulation Commission approved a rezoning application and a preliminary development plan for the 44-turbine commercial wind farm slated for Kibby Mountain and Kibby Range in Kibby and Skinner townships on March 5.
The total cost of just the turbines is estimated to be more than $160 million, Di domenico said.
The intent, if the project moves forward, Di domenico said, is to start development in August or September and to have half of the wind farm in service in 2009 and the other half in 2010.
A TIF is only one element the corporate board will be looking at in the cost analysis of the project, but it is not the only deciding factor, Di domenico said. The company has to weigh the economics, including risk factors and efficiencies, before a decision is made, he said.
“We remain very positive, very hopeful,” he said, the project will go forward. A lot of time and money has been invested in it, he added.
Commissioner Fred Hardy of New Sharon said he has heard from people concerned about the costs of a TIF to the towns in Franklin County.
By Donna M. Perry
12 March 2008
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