Has the controversy over wind power blown away in Howard?
Fewer than 20 residents came out to a Steuben County Industrial Development Agency hearing Thursday evening on a proposed Payment In Lieu of Taxes Agreement with EverPower Renewables, a New York-based company planning to build 25 wind turbines south of Howard. Two people made comments to SCIDA Executive Director James Sherron.
By comparison, a similar hearing in Cohocton Jan. 18, a Friday morning meeting, was attended by more than 50 residents, with 20 making comments to SCIDA.
“I’m surprised,” Sherron said. “We had more people at 10 a.m. than 5 p.m.”
Sherron said he set the time for the Howard hearing for 5 p.m. after complaints from Cohocton residents wanting more access for residents with jobs.
The hearing Thursday, according to Sherron, was to receive public comment on SCIDA’s proposed PILOT agreement.
Under the agreement, SCIDA – a tax-exempt agency – will take hold of the project’s title, probably through a lease, and then lease it EverPower.
In this way, the project will become property, sales and mortgage tax-exempt, Sherron said.
In exchange for the tax breaks, EverPower will sign on for a 20-year payment plan to give funds to the Town of Howard – which will receive 24 percent – the Canisteo-Greenwood Central School District will get nearly 60 percent and Steuben County the rest.
According to Sherron at the hearing, EverPower will pay a lower rate per megawatt of production capacity every year for the first four years, as a way to help the company with start-up costs on the project. In the fifth year, the rate per megawatt will be $5,300, at $397,500 for the project, and will increase by 3 percent every year for the next 15 years, ending at approximately $9,000 per megawatt.
The project consists of 25 Nordex N90 2.5-megawatt turbines, producing a combined 75 megawatts, stretching south from Turnpike Road along County Route 27.
Robert Halevinski, who listed his mailing address as Livonia, asked Sherron if there were any guarantees that EverPower would not pull out of the project after construction has begun.
“I don’t think they’re going to build these and then skip town,” Sherron said. “The abatements and property tax credits come after (the project is completed).”
Sherron said the turbines will cost EverPower approximately $2 million each.
Halevinski also asked what kind of jobs are going to be created.
“Most of these (projects) are five to 10 full-time jobs,” Sherron said, adding more than 200 people are constructing turbines in Cohocton, and of those, 58 percent are local employees.
“You need special people and special cranes for the work,” he said, adding UPC Wind and contractor Mortenson Construction have done a good job trying to match SCIDA’s required 60-percent local labor stipulation in the Cohocton PILOT agreement.
By Bob Clark
11 April 2008