Hornell, N.Y. – Everything was in line for construction of the EverPower wind project in Howard to start next month. The paperwork was filed. Agreements had been signed. Contractors had been brought in. It seemed like the only thing that could delay the project was the weather.
But like a sudden gust of wind, town officials announced at Wednesday’s board meeting that the project has been put on hold, and they aren’t sure why.
“The Howard wind project is on hold,” town Supervisor Don Evia said, adding that he spoke briefly Tuesday with Kevin Sheen, head of business development for EverPower Renewables in Howard.
Sheen told him there was difficulty with renewable energy credits, but the town supervisor couldn’t shed any more light.
“I really don’t know yet all the particulars,” he said. “This is kind of strange.”
Sheen responded through email today that EverPower doesn’t have a statement at this time.
EverPower was to build 25 turbines, each rated for 2.5 megawatts of power production in optimal wind conditions, along Turnpike Road and along the ridge above Stephens Creek and County Route 27.
Sheen, who was not at Wednesday’s meeting, outlined the timeline for the project at prior meetings.
Construction was to start in May, with towers going up in June. The idea was to have all the towers up and running by January, before winter set in.
The delay certainly complicates that, Evia said.
“It’s not cancelled,” Evia said. “If they do it, they want to do it in the calendar year. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? As of right now, it’s on hold. I don’t know if it’s one week, one year or indefinitely.”
The board went ahead and approved the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement, if only to set a precedent for other areas looking at wind projects, Evia said.
About a month ago, the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency (SCIDA) approved a 20-year PILOT agreement, worth $13,939,000, for all entities involved: the county, Howard, and Canisteo-Greenwood Central School and the Hornell City School District.
With the agreement, Howard was to receive 51.5 percent of the nearly $14 million, or $7,178,585. Steuben County would receive 16.5 percent, or $2,299,935.
The remaining 32 percent, $4,460,480, was to be split between the two school districts. Because 23 of the 25 turbines would have fallen in the Canisteo-Greenwood district, they were to receive 92 percent of the remaining money, or approximately $4,103,641. The Hornell school district would have received around $356,838.
The entities weren’t going to have to wait as long to receive dividends, Evia said, as money would come in around the time the turbines were supplying power to the grid.
“All the taxing entities had agreed to that, thought it was a good split for everyone, and thought it was an excellent model,” Evia said.
There were some anti-wind project people in attendance. One person questioned how the money was to be used.
“Is it all going to go to the taxpayer? Yeah, it’s going to be treated like sales tax,” Evia responded, adding that town officials didn’t have any sort of Christmas wish list to use the money on. “We said from the start, we would treat this like sales tax.”
But no wind project means no PILOT money, Evia said.
The town supervisor said Howard isn’t like Hornell and Bath, where industry can go and set up shop. With sales-tax revenue declining, this was a way to curb taxes for residents, he said.
“This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for Howard,” Evia said.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding