Antrim select board members agreed to ask Antrim Wind Energy for a one-time payment of $100,000 to recover any legal and administrative costs it has spent since the inception of a nine turbine wind project slated to be built on Tuttle Hill and Willard Mountain during a meeting on Monday night.
The conversation about recapturing its costs surfaced during a select board meeting late last month after Antrim Wind – whose parent company is Walden Green Energy LLC – proposed amending its PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes, agreement.
As the document reads now, Antrim Wind has to be commercially operational by Dec. 31, 2018, although the company asked the town to possibly extend the target date by one year to Dec. 31, 2019. If the company were to need the extension, it would pay the town an additional $50,000 on top of two separate payments of $50,000 for when it starts construction on the project and when the facility goes online.
Discussion about possibly adding language that would extend the PILOT agreement surfaced concerns about costs the town has incurred as a result of the project. Since its inception in 2009, the town has spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000 in legal and administrative fees. The town pays its legal counsel $175 an hour.
PILOT agreement payouts would cover the town’s legal and administrative costs to date, although select board members are wary of relying on that money because if the company never starts construction those payments will never kick in. The town also only receives .44 cents on the dollar for money paid out through the PILOT agreement.
Select board member Mike Genest has been adamant about fully recouping costs that the town has sunk into the project up until now and into the future. Selectmen Bob Edwards has been slightly more lenient, stating that it’s in the town’s best interest to encourage the company to become operational as soon as possible. Once it’s online, he said, the town will start receiving payments that will more than cover its expenses.
“I think what we’re trying to do is encourage them to be commercially operational by 12/31 of ‘18, that behooves them and it behooves us,” Edwards said during the meeting.
Antrim Wind Energy’s website touts that the company will pay $11,250 per megawatt of installed capacity each year, which it says is the highest per-megawatt payment of any PILOT agreement for wind energy in the state. The total tax payments to the town over the first 20 years of the project would be about $8.375 million, it says, although the town will only receive 44 percent of that total and the rest will be doled out to the school, county and state.
After a lengthy discussion, all three members agreed to ask the energy company for a one-time $100,000 payment in addition to any PILOT agreement payments.
The town will hold a public hearing to discuss potential changes to the PILOT agreement on Monday, March 27.
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