ALBION – The shadow cast by a potential wind energy project in northwestern Orleans County is long enough to reach the Orleans EDA’s offices in downtown Albion.
EDA officers ordered a review of their tax exemption policies in light of Apex Clean Energy’s progress in soliciting tower sites for Lighthouse Wind, a 201-megawatt project in Yates and Somerset.
The goal is to ensure the EDA’s policy for aiding wind energy projects, adopted in 2009, fits advances in technology, EDA President Jm Whipple said.
“The policies were made for 1.75-megawatt turbines, now it’s three to four megawatts,” Whipple said.
Apex, which held an introductory open house in Barker last month, has not made any formal applications for aid. In a letter to the EDA, Lighthouse Wind Project Manager Dan Fitzgerald touted the project’s economic benefits and said a partnership would be likely.
“(The project will be) developed and constructed with private capital,” Fitzgerald wrote. “The project is expected to enter a payment in lieu of taxes agreement with local tax jurisdictions and a host community agreement with the towns.”
The proposal would be similar to wind energy projects in Wyoming County. Whipple said the EDA would play a similar role in this project by offering long-term tax-abatements to turbines that could each be assessed in the millions of dollars.
Apex has approached farmers and owners of other large and open properties in Yates, although the project is likely to be more focused on areas closer to its connection to the state’s electrical grid in Somerset.
Whipple said the EDA’s actions are based in part by past interest in wind energy from the Town of Yates and its residents.
“We’re making sure that we are ready, because they are obviously coming to us at some point,” Whipple said. “When they are ready to come, they’ll talk with us. It could be very lucrative.”
A second open house is scheduled for 3 to 7 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Yates Town Hall.
In other news:
— EDA board members unanimously approved two incentive agreements, one to continue development at Claims Recovery Financial Services in Albion and the other for accountability reasons.
A new amended and restated PILOT deal with Associated Brands in Medina does not change any of the terms set in 2002. EDA Counsel Diane Church said the new agreement was needed after an audit revealed that the EDA’s copy of the document could not be found.
“This is to document the change, they’ve been paying based on this revised schedule,” Church said. “We’re affirming it through 2021.”
Associated Brands will pay 80 percent of its assessed taxes in 2015, a total of $78,116.98 split between Orleans County, Medina, Shelby, Ridgeway and the Medina School District. The 20-year pilot started at a 50-to-50 abatement and has risen at five percent since 2006.
Whipple said a $250,000 loan to CRFS is much simpler.
“CRFS is doing a lot of development, they just need operational funding to grow their business,” he said.