The Frankfort-Schuyler School Board heard a presentation at its regular board meeting on Tuesday from Keith Pitman from Empire Wind about the potential windmill project the village of Frankfort is investigating.
The presentation comes two months after the Board of Education was first approached by village mayor Frank Moracco about the project.
Moracco originally approached the school board because of the taxes in the area, which could ultimately determine how much money each entity, the village, town, school and county, received out of the project.
School tax makes up 60 percent of the area and the other entities make up the rest.
If the school wanted the full 60 percent of what revenues came in out of the project, Moracco said the project would not be able to be completed.
The board decided at that meeting that they wanted to hear from Empire Wind, the company that is invested in the windmill project.
Pitman explained the project and said compared to other projects the company is pursuing, this is the smallest project due to the lack of wind in the area and the lack of land available to place windmills.
He thinks the Frankfort project would be on a scale of 5-10 windmills, where most of the company’s projects have no less then 15 windmills.
Pitman gave an example of eight windmills in the area would turn a profit of between $400,000 and $500,000 a year for the first 10 years. After that they have a possibility of turning a profit of $1 million a year. The village would get 50 percent of the profit whereas the company would get the other 50 percent.
As for the school, town and county, Moracco said agreements would have to be worked out with all three of them where each entity would get a piece of the village’s share of the profit, if the school board agrees to participate in the project.
“If this is something you think the board is interested in doing we’ll move forward and sit down and discuss the pieces,” Moracco said.
After the first 10 years, the village has the option to either keep the company running its windmills or purchasing the windmills and taking them over.
The board expressed concern about the longevity of the windmills and what would happen if they are put up and do not meet the expectations of the company or do not turn a profit like expected.
“(The windmills) are designed for the super long haul,” Pitman said. “We have no reason to take them down because we’ve already invested the money.”
Pitman adds that he expects the windmills to be there for 50 years, which will benefit the village as energy costs continue to rise.
The substation for the windmills would be in the village whereas most of the windmills would be placed in the town because they have better land for them.
“For us this more then just a financial gain,” Moracco said. “We have the knowledge and power to turn around and invest in our community and allow our kids and grandkids to live in a community where we are able to keep the costs down.”
The school board did not make a final decision at the meeting.
By Kim Dunne
13 May 2008
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