Freedom – Freedom officials have opted not to act on a request by the owner of the Beaver Ridge wind farm to have the company’s three-turbine development revalued at a lower rate. The non-decision effectively keeps the rate that was set by the town, and whether the developer will appeal remains unknown.
The Beaver Ridge turbines, owned and operated by Beaver Ridge Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Patriot Renewables of Quincy, Mass., have been turning since November 2008. The town initially valued the development at $9.7 million based on figures provided by BRW, according to Freedom Selectwoman Carol Richardson.
In 2010, that number jumped by 10 percent to $10.8 million.
Richardson said the new valuation was based on figures supplied by the state from the building costs company Marshall & Swift. She said she chose the middle figure from a range of possible values to arrive at the $10.8 million figure.
In August 2010, Todd Presson of Patriot Renewables wrote a letter to the town, expressing concern at the 10-percent hike and requesting a meeting with town officials to consider a reassessment. A subsequent letter from Presson, dated Dec. 3, 2010, gave a basic breakdown of the costs of the turbines, totaling $9.46 million.
“If anything we expected that the assessed value would decrease each year due to the projected 20-year service life of the wind turbines and the associated physical depreciation,” he wrote.
In response, the town sought an independent appraisal, hiring Jacki Robbins, who works as an assessor for a number of Waldo County towns and also serves on the Monroe Select Board.
According to Freedom Selectman Ronald Price, Robbins valued the development at $9.6 million, based on an overall value of $10.8 million adjusted for the fact that Freedom taxes properties at 89 percent of the state valuation.
Price, who owns the property on which the turbines are located, abstained from the discussion, and according to Selectman Clint Spaulding, there was no vote on Robbins’ recommendations, leaving the initial valuation of $10.8 million to stand.
“There were just two of us and we weren’t going to be able to agree on what was going to be done,” Spaulding said. “So it stayed where it was at, and they have a right to appeal to the state tax division.”
Spaulding said the town has not planned any further action on a possible revaluation of the turbines.
Speaking by phone Feb. 22, Presson said he was not sure if BRW would appeal the decision.
“We’re disappointed, but we’re not really sure at this point,” he said. “We’d like to figure out how to value the project correctly and whether that involves an appeal, I don’t know.”
Presson cast doubt on the town’s decision to use the Marshall & Swift guide, which he said is intended as a rule-of-thumb guide, not as a basis for assessing.
Presson said his own conversations with representatives of Marshall & Swift led him to believe the company did not have a strong basis for its figures applying to industrial wind developments, he said, and he lamented the fact that other towns may favor the figures in the guide over costs reported by developers.
“We’re all for paying our fair share of taxes,” he said. “We just don’t want it to be based on what seems to us like an arbitrary number.”
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