A new policy concerning payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreements for wind farm projects was passed Aug. 10 by the Oswego County Legislature.
The policy states that any PILOT for a wind energy production project with a capacity of 25 megawatts or more will require annual payments to the county equal that of what the wind company could pay in real property taxes. Legislator Shawn Doyle, R-Pulaski, said this policy will put Oswego County on an even keel with Jefferson County, which has dealt with many wind energy project developments in the past.
“With PILOTS, in return we get jobs,” Doyle explained. But he said the Mad River Wind Farm Project that is proposed for the tow of Redfield in Oswego County and the Jefferson County town of Worth would produce only a few full-time jobs for the area.
The Mad River Wind Farm Project is planned for about 30 square miles of land. The 350-megawatt project would be built by Avangrid Renewables and would consist of the construction of up to 125 wind turbines, transmitting its electricity along the Volney-Marcy 345 kilovolt line.
The company states the turbines would cover about a 200-acre footprint within about 20,000 acres of working forest it has leased from Salmon River Timberlands LLC. Company officials said about 20 full-time jobs would be created.
The Democrats on the legislature took issue with the wind mill farm policy on a couple of different fronts.
Minority Leader Frank Castiglia, D-Fulton, said “we’re not against wind,” but he was against receiving information on this policy and resolution right before the legislature meeting.
“These items were brought to us 20 minutes before the meeting,” he said. “This should have been brought to Government and Courts (Government, Courts and Consumer Affairs committee). That’s all we’re asking.”
Doyle said legislators were e-mailed the information about the policy Friday, Aug. 4.
Democrat Thomas Drumm, D-Oswego, said he doesn’t think PILOT agreements should be done piecemeal.
“That policy is a wind policy and an economic development policy,” he said. “We are cherry-picking PILOTS here. Let’s do it the proper way.”
Drumm tried to get the wind policy tabled, sent to committee for discussion and then have it voted on at the legislature’s September meeting. But that measure was defeated by the legislature.
Also on Aug. 10, the legislature:
■ Approved moving $250,000 from one line of the sheriff’s salary and wages budget line to the overtime budget line. Sheriff Reuel Todd said he has “unanticipated overtime expenses” due to a lack of manpower because of medical leaves and vacant positions.
■ Approved a $910,000 grant for work that was done at the Bristol Hill Landfill in the town of Volney. The money will be put in various county accounts. The grant was applied for 11 years ago and it took the state six to seven years to send the money to the county. It arrived in 2016. If approved, the money will be put in the technology account, the Silk Road Landfill account and the development and efficiencies projects account.
■ Approved accepting a $1,000 donation from Exelon, operators of Nine Mile Point I and II nuclear stations and the James FitzPatrick nuclear plant, to help pay for the surgery for the accelerant detection dog Kyrie, who recently had her injured anterior cruciate ligament repaired.
■ Approved a contract with Delta Engineers, Architects and Land Surveyors of Endwell, Broome County, for construction inspection services on the South Jefferson Street Bridge (the long bridge) project in Pulaski. The cost is $73,210 for three months.
■ Approved accepting a grant to update the Airport Master Plan Study. The study will cost $383,900, with the federal government grant paying 90 percent of this ($345,510). The state and local shares are $19,195 each. The local share will come out of the capital project airport account.
■ Approved establishing the county’s new Department of Facilities and Technology. The county is combining the Central Services Department and Buildings and Grounds Department and renaming it the Department of Facilities and Technology. County Administrator Philip Church said the measure will not result in any changes in the way things are done. In fact, the two departments have been acting as though they were already one for the last few months.
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