DEER RIVER – Issues with a National Grid hook-up will likely delay completion of the Copenhagen Wind Farm project until 2018.
“There’s no reason to think the project is in any kind of uncertainty,” P.J. Saliterman, development director for EDF Renewable Energy, said Monday during a public hearing on the proposed payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement. “It’s just unfortunate.”
While developers had hoped to start work on the project this fall and be up and running by late 2017, National Grid officials have notified them that the earliest interconnection to the power grid would be in mid-2018, Mr. Saliterman said.
EDF officials still hope to negotiate an earlier date with the utility, but the issue makes it difficult to give a definite start date at this point, he said.
While federal wind tax credits available for the project will drop slightly if it is not started this year, Mr. Saliterman said that is “not going to be a limiting factor for us.”
The Copenhagen Wind Farm, being developed by EDF, San Diego, Calif., with local partner Jerry B. Wichelns, is to feature 40, 2-megawatt turbines in the town of Denmark and an overhead power line running through the towns of Champion and Rutland.
Under a proposed 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement to be administered by the Lewis County Industrial Development Agency, Copenhagen Wind Farm would pay $8,400 per megawatt – or $672,000 – in the first year following completion, then add 2.5 percent each year. That’s more than $19 million over the 20-year period.
Most of the turbines would be in the Copenhagen Central School District, and that revenue would be split as follows: 38.07 percent to the school district, 31.07 percent to the town of Denmark and 30.85 percent to Lewis County. For the roughly five towers in the Lowville Academy and Central School District, the split would be 35.07 percent to the school district, 32.58 percent to the town and 32.35 percent to the county.
For the transmission line, the wind company would additionally pay Jefferson County and its two towns based on full taxation on an assessed value of 70 percent of line construction costs, while the Copenhagen school district would waive transmission payments for the first 15 years.
Mr. Saliterman commended Copenhagen Central School Superintendent Scott N. Connell, who was in attendance, for offering the waiver after plans offering less money to the Jefferson County municipalities were rejected. “Scott’s leadership in this whole thing was instrumental,” he said.
While the school was scheduled to get the lion’s share of its money through turbine payments anyway, the wind project “would have been at a disadvantage” to competing projects if it had to pay more on the power lines, Mr. Saliterman said.
The Lewis County IDA is also offering sales and mortgage tax abatement for the project. With nobody registering opposition at Monday’s hearing, the IDA board will likely give its final sign-off in a couple of weeks.
The project also remains under review by the Denmark town Planning Board. That board could give site plan approval as soon as Thursday night, when a special meeting has been set to hash out remaining issues with the developer.
The state Article X permitting process, which now allows the state Public Service Commission to make decisions about where wind and other power projects are sited, was enacted in 2011.
However, it didn’t take effect until after the Copenhagen Wind Farm was proposed, leaving review of this project in the town’s hands.
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