MALONE – Franklin County expects to use a small windfall created from Chateaugay wind farms to fund its natural-gas pipeline.
An account established in lieu of tax payment when Noble Environmental Power built a wind-energy site in the community in 2008 pays the county $1,000 per megawatt of power generated by the cluster of 365-foot towers.
The first payment was made in 2009, and the last is expected in 2012, bringing the total to about $425,000.
The wording of the agreement states that the money held by the Franklin County treasury must be used for economic-development purposes, with worthy projects selected by the county Industrial Development Agency.
The IDA helped broker the deal with Enbridge St. Lawrence Gas to bring a 48-mile natural-gas pipeline to northern Franklin County that is ready to begin construction.
The county pledged $1,425,000 toward the $20 million project and hopes to use the $425,000 from the wind-farm account as part of its funding pool rather than to go out for a short-term loan.
IDA Executive Director John Tubbs, IDA Board of Directors President Joe Perry and County Treasurer Bryon Varin met with legislators Thursday and appeared to agree that the money should be used for the pipeline project.
But they also wanted to go over the language of the agreement again – there are questions as to whether the county has to replenish the account and if future projects the IDA deems funding-worthy must also be approved by the County Legislature before the cash is released.
Tubbs said the IDA wants assurances that the borrowed money will be put back in the account because it is the only funding source it has to draw from to pay fees for grant-application filings or small matching funds attached to certain grants.
The county’s stance is that it will dole out the money on a project-by-project basis when the IDA presents each idea for legislative approval.
However, the IDA says the Noble agreement does not say the county must be consulted when it wants to fund a future project.
Legislator Marc “Tim” Lashomb (R-Malone) said he’d like clarification on the issue now before the next possible project comes to light.
County Attorney Jonathan Miller was asked to review the agreement and report back with his opinion at the next County Legislature meeting, set for May 19.
The natural-gas pipeline will run from the Town of Norfolk in St. Lawrence County to the Village of Chateaugay, allowing large-volume customers like school districts, Alice Hyde Medical Center, three state prisons and the McCadam Cheese plant to tap in.
Residential customers will be added to the service where convenient during the construction phase and for the following five years.
Enbridge St. Lawrence Gas said gas service could be available by the end of the year.
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