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Timing of wind company generosity is extremely suspect

I am one of many in the vicinity of Hopkinton who find the timing and the generosity of Avangrid/Iberdrola/Atlantic Wind extremely suspect. Just at a time when the town board has set their public hearing on the proposed wind law that was recommended by the Hopkinton Wind Advisory Board nearly a year ago…and at the exact same time that the public have stated emphatically that they do not want any expansion of the overlay zone South of St. Rt. 72.

Is this new, or is it déjà vu? Does anyone remember the New York Times headlines from October 12, 2016? “Vermont Wind Project Needs Support, So company Offers to Pay Voters.” “Windham, Vt. – To many residents in this tiny town in southern Vermont, the last-minute offer of cash was a blatant attempt to buy their votes.” (For a really good read, check out the full article online at https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/13/us/vermont-wind-project-needs-votes-s…).

Does anyone want to hazard a guess as to what company that was? If you guessed Iberdrola, you would be correct. Anyone want to hazard a guess as to how much money the company was offering to pay? Funny you should ask….”$1,125 apiece, annually, or $28,135 over 25 years, which a voter could accept or not.” Sounds eerily similar, does it not?

It does not take a genius to understand what is going on here. Iberdrola has heard the majority of all residents speak out against this project for over 18 months. The Town Board is getting ready to finally vote on the Wind Law and Overlay Zone.

Things may not going Iberdrola’s way, so they have pulled out their bag of tricks. They are trying to buy support for this project in any way they can. While on the surface, this may seem an enticing amount to some at the current time; however, if you take into consideration proposed rate hikes and inflation, this will be a drop in the bucket years from now. The $1,200 project “benefit” will seem more like $50 down the road…think about how everything goes up over time – except this “benefit.”

Iberdrola is a cold-hearted, calculating corporation whose only goal is to make a profit by harvesting subsidies. To accomplish their goals, they pit neighbor against neighbor and destroy one community after another. Once again, they are dangling a baby carrot in front of our noses because this avenue would be much CHEAPER for them than paying taxes based on full value taxation. PILOT agreements are only a fraction of full taxation, usually 15-20%.

Based on this percentage, would you rather have the company pay $750,000 per year to be divided between the Town of Hopkinton, the Parishville-Hopkinton Central School, and St. Lawrence County, or would you rather have them divide between $3,750,000 to $5,625,000 annually?

This is their ploy – try to garner public support for a toxic project with an offer that might, at most, cost them an additional $500,000 a year in addition to the PILOT amount, or full taxation of $3.75 million to $5.625 million a year. If Hopkinton residents truly want to benefit from this proposed project, than do not be swayed by this latest ploy. Think about how much your school and land taxes would actually go down if Iberdrola paid taxes instead of receiving a PILOT for 30 years.

And finally, let’s think about the “conditions” surrounding this generous offer by Iberdrola. “It would be for almost all year-round residents of Hopkinton.” It is not surprising that seasonal/part-time residents would be excluded from this “benefit.” For the most part, seasonal residents, very understandably, do not want the community visually disfigured.

So my question is, what will happen to a Hopkinton resident who signs on to this deal with Avangrid who then becomes a part-time resident at some point down the road? Will the deal be voided if they start spending three months in Florida? Will “informants” in the town “snitch” to Avangrid when they see that a resident has slipped away under cover of darkness to become a snow bird for a brief part of the year?

And by the way, I may live in Parishville, but I am barely over a mile from the Hopkinton Town Line, in clear view of the proposed destruction of Hopkinton. How dare leaseholders tell people living in close proximity to Hopkinton to “go home” and that they “don’t have a dog in the race” when our lives will obviously be more negatively impacted than many who leased property in Hopkinton but live in other areas, or plan to move to other areas in the not-too-distance future.

Lori Witherell