News Release – Grafton Select Board
Oct. 31, 2016
Lynn Barrett, 802-258-3992
Special Informational meeting re Wind Project on Nov 2; Special Economic Workshop on Nov 3
GRAFTON, VT—OCTOBER 31, 2016—The Economic Committee of the Grafton Select Board has been studying the economic impacts of the proposed industrial wind development in Grafton for the last 10 weeks. The committee, made up of John Turner, Bob Donald, Hardy Merrill and Pieter van der Made, held discussions with State of Vermont Tax Department representatives, Iberdrola representatives, and residents or officials of other towns in Vermont that have existing industrial wind facilities operating in their communities.
The primary subjects addressed included: Potential impact on Municipal Property taxes from and industrial wind project; other economic proposals; guarantees for, and timing of, Iberdrola payments; potential employment/job and local economic impacts from an industrial wind project and potential impact on Grafton property values from an industrial wind project.
The most important findings of the report confirm once again “certain combinations of household income and property values will see no tax benefit because of the tax adjustments (rebates)”. Moreover, for all practical purposes, this effect is not dependent on the amount of Iberdrola’s tax contribution. (See annexes B1 and B2)
“Over 66% of any tax relief will be attributable to properties assessed at $300,000 or above, based upon the current Grafton Grand List, although these properties make up only 33% of total properties.”
The “direct partnership payments”, i.e. the direct payments to registered voters, will be taxable. So the $428 per voter as advertised will be taxed, the net amount received will therefore be less.
“Avangrid Renewables LLC (Iberdrola USA has merged with UIL Holdings and is now called Avangrid) appears to not have a credit rating from any of the three major credit rating agencies (S&P, Moody’s and Fitch) as opposed to other Avangrid (Iberdrola USA) subsidiaries, which means that the security of future Iberdrola payments cannot be established.” “Iberdrola was asked to verify the information above and was queried if they will secure third-party guarantee of their financial promises under this proposal. The Committee has not received a response to this question as of the date of this report.” (Guarantees of Iberdrola payments: see page 6)
The section on Potential Employment and Job impacts makes the point, among others, that: “Conversations with other towns that have experienced industrial wind construction have not noted any significant impact on local employment opportunities from such projects. (Potential Employment/Job Impacts: see page 6)
Potential impacts on tourism and desirability of Grafton as a place to live or own a second home are cautiously stated. The committee could not quantify the question as to whether the Iberdrola project could have an adverse impact on Grafton’s attractiveness, at this time. (Potential Impact on Tourism: see page 7)
In terms of property values, the committee reviewed numerous studies, reports and articles that discuss the impact on real estate values from industrial wind facilities within specified areas. They found the studies were not consistent. One of the studies conducted by the School of Business at Clarkson University focused on the variations of effects based on the distance of properties from the nearest wind turbine. This study states in its opening paragraph, “We find that “nearby wind facilities significantly reduce property values.”
In a study of the residential home sales data for Townshend, Jamaica, Londonderry, Windham and Grafton for the years 2011-2016 prepared by Allison Cummings, TPW Real Estate agent and Lister, they found that the volume of property sales in both Windham and Grafton were sharply down, while they are not in non/less effected towns such as Londonderry and Townshend. (Impact on Grafton property values: see pages 7 and 8)
Additional information about Environment and Health impacts can be found at graftonvt.org.
A special informational meeting of the Grafton Select Board will be held on Wednesday, November 2 at 6p at the Grafton Elementary School to discuss the proposed wind project.
The Economic Impact Committee will hold a property tax impact workshop on Thursday, November 3 from 6-8p at the Grafton Elementary School. The Economic Impact Committee will be available for all property owners to review the potential impact on their individual property tax bills from the proposed industrial wind project in Grafton. Taxpayers will be able to calculate their own impacts using the State of Vermont Tax Department worksheets. The committee advises to bring your property tax bills with you.
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