HANCOCK, MA (March 4) – A prominent national lawyer who specializes in energy issues is being retained by the Board of Selectmen to pursue legal action against the Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative Corporation (BWPCC), operator of the controversial 10-wind turbine facility atop Brodie Mountain.
The Board yesterday voted to take legal action against the Cooperative, which is owned by 14 towns in the eastern part of the Commonwealth, in order to recover back taxes.
First Selectman Sherman Derby said the town will put a lien on the Cooperative’s wind turbines tomorrow.
Derby said Attorney Vincent DeVito of Bowditch & Dewey in Boston has been hired to work on behalf of Hancock in collaboration with town counsel. He is a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy for Policy and International Affairs.
The First Selectman said the town is seeking $165,850 from BWPCC for what it owes the town for payment in lieu of taxes for 2014, including interest and penalties. The last payment the town received was in December 2013.
The Cooperative recently sent the town a check for $147,000 that the Board returned. BWPCC has since claimed that the check was a “temporary payment” that could be adjusted at a later date.
Derby said the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement with BWPCC called for $156,600 annually for the first three years of the project based on a $55 million valuation.
He said the Cooperative has offered $147,000 in 2015, $145,000 in 2016 and $143,000 in 2017.
“We’ve had to deal with noise and other problems from the turbines,” Derby said. “BWPCC at the very least should pay its fair share of taxes. Anything less is unacceptable.”
Derby said the conflict with the BWPCC “should be a warning to all other towns in Massachusetts” which are hosting wind turbine projects.
The Berkshire Wind Power Project Cooperative members include the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC) and 14 municipal utilities that provide electric service to Ashburnham, Boylston, Groton, Holden, Hull, Ipswich, Marblehead, Paxton, Peabody, Shrewsbury, Sterling, Templeton, Wakefield and West Boylston. MMWEC is based in Ludlow, MA.
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