Antrim select board members continued to hash out a potential construction-extension agreement between the town and an energy company that is looking to build nine wind turbines along Tuttle Hill.
Antrim Wind Energy has proposed a one-time payment of $100,000 in exchange for an extension on its commercial operation date. The payment could extend the company’s commercial operation date from Dec. 31, 2018 to the same day the following year.
Already the energy company has agreed to pay the town $50,000 at the start of construction, and a second payment of $50,000 when it goes online.
The board estimates it has spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $150,000 in legal fees since the wind energy project was proposed in 2009. Chair Mike Genest said it will likely accrue more fees as the project gears up for construction after the 28.8 megawatt project was approved by the state’s Site Evaluation Committee late last year. He has pushed hard to recapture legal-fee costs and more while the company attempts to get up and running.
“With these changes and stuff, all of this is going to be even more legal costs, so the bills are going to continue to rise,” Genest said. “And throughout this whole process and the next 20 years I’m sure there are going to be a few more legal costs.”
Selectmen Bob Edwards has said in the past that it is in the best interest of the town and the company for the facility to go online. When that happens, the town will start to receive payments, which will increase every year that it’s in operation.
During the meeting on Monday night, Edwards suggested countering the energy company’s extension proposal with $125,000 upon signing of the contract and $75,000 at the beginning of construction, which is the same amount but would be paid out more quickly. In that scenario, the company would not have to pay the town when it goes online.
He said the proposal would allow the town to recapture its costs more quickly.
“At that point, if they put the shovel in the ground, then we’ve recaptured our money,” Edwards said.
The board agreed to run proposals by its legal council before it spoke to the energy company.
If the two parties reach an agreement, it will have to hold two public hearings regarding the matter.
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