REDFIELD – Oswego County will provide no property tax abatement for developer Avangrid Renewables’s proposed Mad River Wind Farm.
“Just out of the concern for fairness for the rest of the county taxpayers,” said County Administrator Philip R. Church. “We understand that there are a variety of concerns to the impacts of the region up there.”
The developer, which plans to build its 350-megawatt wind farm in the towns of Redfield and Worth, previously secured a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for its Maple Ridge Wind Farm in Lewis County and expressed interest in securing agreements for other projects like its Deer River Wind Farm in the towns of Pinckney, Harrisburg and Montague.
While the company hasn’t discussed having a PILOT for its proposed 88-turbine wind farm in the towns of Redfield and Worth with any stakeholders, the Oswego County Legislature had already passed a resolution in August stating developers would need to pay an amount equal to full taxation for projects with a 25-megawatt output or more.
“I would say as a legislator of Redfield, I would want to see 100 percent” taxation, said County Legislator Margaret A. Kastler, R-Lacona, who represents the towns of Redfield, Sandy Creek and Boylston. “Why not get full taxation if they are going to go through with it?”
The county’s tax policy for large-scale wind farms mirrors the Jefferson County Legislature’s protocol, which also calls for developers to pay an amount equal to full taxation.
Mr. Church said Oswego County’s lawmakers followed “the lead of Jefferson County” because it has dealt with other wind projects. Jefferson County Legislature Chairman Scott A. Gray, R-Watertown, said he met with them to discuss his county’s policy, which he added that Avangrid would have to comply with for its Mad River Wind Farm project.
“I’m pleased to see they have taken the same stance we have taken,” Mr. Gray said. “We basically have a collective voice now in terms of what our expectations are.”
The Oswego County Legislature had previously expressed concerns about whether Avangrid’s wind farm would have adverse economic and environmental effects.
Mr. Church said legislators wanted to learn more about whether Avangrid’s proposed project would contaminate the headwaters of the Salmon River, which provides county residents drinking water and an economic driver with its fishery. The county also expressed concerns about how the project might affect the Tug Hill Aquifer, nearby wetlands, hunting and other outdoor sports that draw tourists to the area in its comments to the state Public Service Commission.
“We thought we were doing our due diligence by asking as many questions as we can,” Mr. Church said. “Our legislature has not taken a formal position for or against the project.”
Avangrid plans to build its wind farm within a 20,000-acre plot of working forest it leased from WoodWise Land Co. and connect it to the Volney-Marcy 345 kilovolts transmission line.
“We are still early in the state’s Article 10 permitting process and we haven’t gotten far enough along to begin specific stakeholder discussions on the local economic benefits, but we anticipate Mad River (Wind Farm) would deliver substantial long-term economic benefits for the community, up to $2 million per year,” said Paul N. Copleman, communications manager for Avangrid, in an email. “We continue to work with the towns of Worth and Redfield on permitting for the project.”
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