WATERTOWN – The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency, overseeing negotiations for a possible payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for the developer of the Galloo Island Wind project, contends that it’s too soon in the process to evaluate any possible dollar figures.
The IDA will submit a letter responding to a interrogatory letter from the developer, Apex Clean Energy, sent to the state Department of Public Service staff regarding a potential PILOT for its 108.9 megawatt wind farm.
“It’s really pretty straightforward,” said agency Chairman David J. Converse. “It’s basically telling them no decisions have been made yet.”
The developer’s application for the state Article 10 review process cited its hopes of reaching a PILOT agreement that would require it to make an annual payment of $7,500 per megawatt, and Neil T. Habig, senior director of project development for Apex, provided a list of other projects the developer used to base the projected payment in the interrogatory letter.
The JCIDA’s draft letter, composed by agency Treasurer Robert E. Aliasso Jr., stated the organization is still in the early stages of data collection for a possible PILOT between the developer and the affected taxing jurisdictions, Jefferson County, the town of Hounsfield and the Sackets Harbor Central School District. It also stated that the agency has yet to determine whether the examples Mr. Habig provided in his letter would be considered indicative of a final agreement.
The agency’s letter also stated it will not consider an agreement that would last 30 years.
“It’s in the early stages and it should be more or less stated as such,” Mr. Aliasso said.
The JCIDA board of directors agreed to submit the response Thursday, although its final letter still needs Mr. Converse’s signature and may be subject to revision.
Mr. Habig said in an email Apex chose not to comment on the draft letter, but would be open to commenting once the JCIDA submits the final version.
“We have enjoyed a long and open relationship with the JCIDA,” he said. “We appreciate their continued interest in our project and their commitment to the economic well-being of Jefferson County.”
The JCIDA accepted Apex’s PILOT application as complete last fall, kicking off the data collection and negotiation process needed to reach a possible agreement.
The interrogatory document from Apex also prompted a response form Jefferson County Legislature Chairman Scott A. Gray, who reminded officials that county policy compels developers with projects that are equal to or more than 25 megawatts to pay the county an amount equal to full taxation under any PILOT agreement.
The county policy has no control over what the other affected taxing jurisdictions, the town of Hounsfield and the Sackets Harbor Central School District, can accept for tax abatement.
Mr. Gray also included a chart in his response that illustrates how the similar wind farms would be assessed at full taxation for each jurisdiction that would be involved in the Apex PILOT.
At the full assessed value, tax payments for a wind farm similar to Apex’s project would range from $1,386,666 per megawatt to $1,696,969 per megawatt at full taxation. Annual taxes for a project at the lower value would total more than $3 million. The PILOT figure suggested by Apex, however, would result in an overall annual payment of $814,000 to all three jurisdictions.
Apex was the first developer to apply for a tax abatement agreement since the Legislature adopted its policy in July 2016.
The developer plans to build 30 turbines that are almost 600 feet tall on Galloo Island as well as a 32-mile underwater transmission cable that will interconnect with a substation in Oswego. Current PILOT negotiations include all components on the island, but not the transmission line.
THE GIST OF IT
■ WHAT: The JCIDA wants to inform the state that negotiations for a possible payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for the developer of the Galloo Island Wind project are not far along enough to entertain any possible figures
■ WHY: The developer, Apex Clean Energy, submitted an interrogatory letter that the JCIDA argues implied the process has moved further along than where it currently stands
■ FOLLOWS: The pending letter follows another response to Apex’s document from Jefferson County Legislature Chairman Scott A. Gray
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