The Somerset Town Board voted Monday night 3-to-2 to no longer pursue an agreement with Empire State Wind Energy, an Oneida-based company, for a wind farm in Somerset.
Somerset Supervisor Richard Meyers said the company planned to build a wind farm that could have brought $18 million in revenue to the town over a 15-year period, or approximately $1.3 million per year.
Meyers, who was in the minority, said Town Board members who voted against pursuing the agreement with Empire had two objections: “One, they said they (Empire representatives) should have come out to our meeting (Monday), and two, they said, ‘We don’t like the way the host agreement was written.’ ”
“They (Empire) wanted us to agree not to pursue an Article 78 relative to the wind farm,” Meyers said. “They had asked us to reword it (the agreement) and send a final copy.” Meyers said the board, by its 3-2 vote, decided it didn’t want to do that.
Article 78 proceedings are used to challenge actions by agencies and officers of state and local government. Empire had wanted the town to waive its right to sue under Article 78. Meyers explained that if the town sued the state Department of Environmental Conservation, for example, the agreement with Empire would have become null and void.
“I’m disappointed that they decided to stop now instead of giving it our best effort to see this through,” he said of the board’s vote.
“We’re going to get a wind farm here,” Meyers said. “We stood to make considerably more in profit” from an agreement with Empire, than with any other firm, he said.
Now, Meyers said, a payment in lieu of taxes agreement would probably be negotiated at a county level.
“There’s nothing stopping land owners from signing with AES,” he said. “We’ll get a third of the revenue we would have gotten from Empire.”
25 March 2008
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