FARMERSVILLE – The Alle-Catt Wind Farm in northern Cattaraugus and Allegany counties could end up costing more than the lease payments, host fees and P.I.L.O.T.s highlighted by the developer, according to an attorney for wind farm opponents.
Ginger Schroder said Wednesday that P.I.L.O.T.s (payments in lieu of taxes) add another dimension if the wind turbines are not taxed at their full value.
While the value of the more than 50 turbines proposed in Cattaraugus County is estimated by Schroder at more than $250 million, the county would be in line for only $380,000 a year in P.I.L.O.T. payments over 20 years.
The town of Farmersville would get $360,000 in annual P.I.L.O.T payments and host fees and the town of Freedom $450,000. Franklinville Central School District would get $100,000 and Pioneer would get $330,000.
The P.I.L.O.T.s, host fees, landowner fees and $1 million in annual operations and maintenance costs add up to about $7 million over five towns in three counties.
P.I.L.O.T.s are worth a quarter or less than what Invenergy, the wind farm developer, would pay at full value, Schroeder said. A P.I.L.O.T. can only be granted by an industrial development agency.
The difference between the P.I.L.O.T.s and full value taxes in this county could range from a low of $6 million to a high of $28 million, she said. That is based on an investment in this county of half of the value of the $500 million to $600 million project.
Last week, Cattaraugus County lawmakers voted to urge the county Industrial Development Agency not to grant P.I.L.O.T.s for wind farms larger than 5 megawatts. The proposed Alle-Catt Wind Farm is 380 megawatts, enough to generate electricity for 140,000 homes.
Daniel Martonis, Cattaraugus County director of Real Property Tax Services, said Wednesday he was unaware of any wind farm located in New York that was not built under a P.I.L.O.T.
“P.I.L.O.T.s are going to be drastically less than if they paid on the taxable value,” he said. “We’d love it as a tax base, but I don’t see it as feasible for the developer.”
Schroder said she’s seen studies that wind turbines can cause area property values to decline, a concern of many Farmersville residents.
“Some people will not want to live next to these things,” she said.
A view furnished by Schroder of the proposed Alle-Catt Wind Farm shows how many turbines residents from the five towns and beyond could see. Many could see between one and 10, but many locations – as far as several miles south of Franklinville to Springville – would be able to see between 91 to 111 turbines.
The towns of Farmersville, Freedom and Arcade could lose $72 million to $144 million in property value because of the wind turbines, Schroder said, adding the turbines could be expected to kill large numbers of bats, which are important to agriculture. The cost to agriculture in Cattaraugus County could range from $851,000 to $12 million, she said.
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