A tax agreement for a wind-energy project that calls for six new wind turbines along the Lake Erie shoreline – up to four of them in the Frontier School District – stalled Tuesday night during a meeting of the School Board.
The board discussed the proposal – which is tied to a payment- in-lieu-of-taxes agreement to be divided among Erie County, the Town of Hamburg and Frontier schools—privately in executive session after their regular business meeting.
The board came out from its closed-door session and unanimously voted to table the resolution that would have given a green light to the proposed PILOT agreement with Erie Wind.
Before the vote, board President Michael Comerford announced that the board would table “this indefinitely pending clarification of contractual issues.”
Afterward, Comerford declined to comment further, as did Superintendent Vincent Coppola.
The proposal has sparked debate. It also came up in a School Board candidates forum in May, when some candidates questioned a scholarship program reportedly being offered to the district by the company as part of the project.
The wind turbines are part of the Steel Winds project that would add six new windmills on the old Bethlehem Steel site this year. The company, also referred to as First Wind, has plans to erect four new turbines on the Hamburg side of the site and two more in Lackawanna.
In January, company officials had said the new windmills would be about 400 feet tall, about the same height as the eight turbines the company operates along the Lackawanna shoreline.
The project is tax-exempt, but First Wind had agreed to a PILOT of $10,000 for each megawatt generated by the turbines, town officials said early this year.
After the county takes its share of the payment, expected to be between 5 percent and 10 percent, the town would receive 51.5 percent. Frontier would the remainder under an agreement between Hamburg and the school district.
Hamburg would reportedly receive the largest percentage because most of the regulation and monitoring of the turbines would fall to the town. To date, town leaders have not taken any action on the PILOT agreement.
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