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Where are the jobs? Wind projects don’t boost local economies as supporters claim  

These proposals do little to promote job growth, and that’s the best reason to demand they provide full taxation. Developers need to think about this carefully before they come here with hat in hand.

Credit:  Watertown Daily Times | October 6, 2017 | www.watertowndailytimes.com ~~

The timing of when Scott E. Hilyard discovered that a company in upstate New York had been rejected for work on a proposed wind project in Lewis County couldn’t have been more ironic.

The president of Local 1822 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America said that Wesson Group LLC in Johnstown, whose employees belong to the union, lost subcontracting work for access road construction of the Copenhagen wind project. Contracting firm Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc., which is headquartered in Colorado, will perform most of the work itself with help from Rock Solid Stabilization and Reclamation Inc., a Wisconsin company.

Mr. Hilyard learned of this around Labor Day.

This holiday commemorates the extraordinary contributions that American workers make every day to our society. Where would we be without their skills and dedication to keeping our nation moving forward?

The crucial element to workers making these contributions, of course, is expanding the job market in our region. So it must have been a bitter pill for Mr. Hilyard to swallow to hear that construction jobs for a project in the town of Denmark would be going to people employed by companies in Colorado and Wisconsin rather than New York.

“This is the first wind farm in our jurisdiction that we’re not involved in,” Mr. Hilyard was quoted as saying in a story published Monday in the Watertown Daily Times. “We need work up here for our local people.”

To be honest, Johnstown is in Fulton County – a long haul from Copenhagen. Wesson Group may not be a next-door neighbor, but it affects the state economy.

This summarizes one of the problems with proposed wind projects in the north country: They do not provide sufficient employment opportunities for people who live here. These jobs frequently go to companies from other states. What, then, are the true benefits of constructing wind turbines in our communities?

EDF Renewable Energy, the developer of the proposed Copenhagen wind project, has pending payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements with Lewis County, the Copenhagen and Lowville Academy central school districts, Jefferson County and the towns of Denmark, Champion and Rutland. These PILOTS represent a third level of government handouts for wind projects, and this must stop.

Wind projects already receive federal and state subsidies, paid for by north country taxpayers. PILOTS usually reduce the amount that developers pay to public bodies. This means that taxpayers must fork over more of their hard-earned money to wind developers – who in turn hire out-of-state companies to get the work done.

Fortunately, Jefferson County has passed a rule that puts the interest of residents first. Wind developers with projects of more than 25 megawatts must pay the county an amount equal to full taxation regardless of a PILOT agreement. Other counties in Northern New York should follow suit.

Scott A. Gray, chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators, properly connected the dots between the employment practices of EDF Renewable Energy and the county’s taxation rule for wind projects.

“The fact that they are not hiring local people solidifies our position going forward that full taxation is the right position,” Mr. Gray said in the Times story, adding that having only 20 percent of the company’s workforce consist of local labor “basically nullifies (the developer’s) argument that it creates construction jobs … that doesn’t create any for our people.”

Wind projects may seem like enticing deals for some public bodies, which would net some tax revenue on otherwise vacant land, and property owners, who would benefit from leases signed by developers. Government entities, however, must see the bigger picture when it comes to economic development.

These proposals do little to promote job growth, and that’s the best reason to demand they provide full taxation. Developers need to think about this carefully before they come here with hat in hand.

Source:  Watertown Daily Times | October 6, 2017 | www.watertowndailytimes.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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