Apex “Clean Energy” has stated numerous times that a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement would provide over $1.6 million in annual revenue to the six taxing jurisdictions impacted by proposed Project Lighthouse Wind. This statement was made most recently in Lighthouse Wind News, a periodic publication of Apex. No PILOT exists, nor has one been applied for, nor should one be granted to Apex.
A PILOT is a tax break, the key words being “in lieu of taxes.” Apex apparently feels proposed Project Lighthouse Wind should be granted a PILOT and not pay full taxes on its investment in our community, whatever that investment turns out to be. We continue to be kept in the dark about specifics of this project. Imagine if we, as private citizens, could decide the amount in taxes we would like to pay without declaring exactly what we intended to do, not what our investment would be. The $1.6 million figure is plainly propaganda with no basis in fact, and is intended to impress us as to the financial bonanza we are about to experience from proposed Project Lighthouse Wind. Companies such as Apex need every tax break, subsidy and write-off they can contrive to come close to being competitive with conventional methods of electrical generation, so rest assured the taxes they offer to pay will be minimal or non-existent.
Contrast this Lighthouse Wind “bonanza” with what Somerset Station currently contributes to our community. Despite going through bankruptcy and reorganization, Somerset Station still is one of the area’s largest taxpayers. It contributes over $4.6 million in taxes to our community. Further, Somerset Station employs 99 full-time personnel with a total payroll in excess of $11 million annually. Incredibly, state and federal energy policies are driving Somerset Station out of business.
The current economic benefits of Somerset Station far outweigh anything that proposed Project Lighthouse Wind could bring to our area. Somerset Station should remain open and viable and every effort should be expedited to keep that facility operating and producing power. This coal burning facility should be converted to clean burning natural gas.
Proposed Project Lighthouse Wind should be terminated. The authority for this action should be returned to local government, not vested in Albany. The economic benefits will be a disaster for our community, as an operating tax-paying business will be forced to close and replaced by a heavily subsidized one that will pay minimal or no taxes. The power is not needed. The power is not reliable. The power is not “clean,” when all environmental and physical impacts are thoroughly and honestly addressed. Yet Apex “Clean Energy” presses on via Article X state law, to trash up the countryside with 70, 650-foot monstrous industrial wind turbines.
The people of our community have soundly rejected this project no less than three times in independent surveys. It is time their voices were heard.
James C. Hoffman
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