LITTLE VALLEY – Cattaraugus County lawmakers will vote Wednesday on a resolution urging the Industrial Development Agency not to grant a payment in lieu of taxes (P.I.L.O.T.) agreement for projects like the Alle-Catt Wind Farm.
If last Wednesday’s County Legislature committee meetings are any judge, there will be a standing room only crowd of Farmersville-area residents in support of the resolution.
The resolution is advisory in nature, urging the IDA not to grant a P.I.L.O.T. for wind energy projects larger than 5 megawatts.
It does not mention Alle-Catt, but that project is 380 megawatts capable of powering 148,000 homes.
Some residents and others believe that without a P.I.L.O.T. from the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency, the Alle-Catt Wind Farm project may not get off the ground.
An Invenergy spokesman did not return calls or an email seeking comment Monday.
The controversial project proposed by Invenergy would site more than 100 wind turbines in the Cattaraugus County towns of Farmersville and Freedom; Centerville and Rushford in Allegany County, and Arcade in Wyoming County.
Freedom would have 34 turbines almost 600 feet tall, while Farmersville would have 23 turbines. Plans call for another 29 turbines in Centerville, 10 in Rushford and nine in Arcade.
The town of Freedom would receive a P.I.L.O.T. and host fees from Invenergy of $450,000 a year, while Farmersville would get $360,000.
Invenergy, a Chicago-based developer, is touting $7 million in annual benefits to counties, school districts, towns, fire districts and landowners. Over 25 years, those benefits would exceed $175 million, Invenergy states.
Cattaraugus County would receive a $380,000 annual P.I.L.O.T. payment under the Invenergy proposal, while Allegany County would get $300,000 and Wyoming County would receive $20,000.
Invenergy is expected to seek P.I.L.O.T. agreements with the three counties through their industrial development agencies. The cost of the Alle-Catt Wind Farm is expected to be between $500 million and $600 million.
Without a P.I.L.O.T. agreement, the cost of property taxes would probably be prohibitive for Invenergy. The county, towns and school districts involved would get far more in property taxes than with a P.I.L.O.T.
One of the resolution’s sponsors, County Legislature Majority Leader Donna Vickman, R-Farmersville, said it was not her intention to get Invenergy to get up and walk away.
“I’m looking at protecting all (county) taxpayers. There will be some town tax relief, but the rest of the county won’t get anything,” she said.
Vickman added: “We all pay our fair share. They should too. There are not enough jobs to give up all these tax dollars. There are jobs created during construction, but that all goes away.”
Invenergy says up to a dozen jobs for technicians will be created to maintain the project.
The resolution states: “It has been demonstrated that the environmental, economic and community impacts of large wind energy projects of 5 megawatts of more can be significant and might well have a negative effect on the county depending on the location and parameters of the proposed project.”
The resolution also states: “Providing a tax abatement subsidy through P.I.L.O.T. agreements to encourage the siting of large wind energy projects may not be appropriate given the potential negative impacts and potential low cost-benefit ratio of large wind energy projects.”
The IDA, Vickman said, needs to look at government giving this big company big tax relief for a wind farm that gets other subsidies as well.
“I have to take care of the county,” she said.
Legislative sponsors besides Vickman include Robert Breton, R-Franklinville; Richard Helmich, R-Delevan, and Joseph Snyder, R-Ischua.
Snyder is also a member of the IDA. He has previously stated his philosophical opposition to wind energy subsidies that are heavily subsidized, referring to such projects as “a great tax scam.”
Will the resolution pass on Wednesday?
“I can’t say,” Vickman replied.
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