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Groups against wind turbines seeking outside support

Ginger Schroder, a Farmersville resident, has been traveling to other towns inside Cattaraugus County looking for support against wind company Invenergy’s planned wind farm. Schroder requested that the county and other towns inside of the county band together and push against Invenergy.

Schroder believes that there are board members in other towns who will directly benefit from the project who have not recused themselves, thus biasing the process and leaving the county to fight it.

Recently requesting to speak at the Franklinville Town Board meeting, Schroder asked for their support against the project. She presented board members with a map of the project, showing them that the town is inside of five miles from the edge of the proposed wind farm and could be affected while receiving none of the PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) benefits. Schroder said that the county could lose over $10 million on the project as it stands now. The majority of the loss, according to Schroder, would come from loss of tax revenue if the towns sign PILOT agreements instead of demanding full taxation.

“I think this is a really bad economic move for our towns,” Schroder reported to the board, “but we are so desperate for money that the devil looks good to us.”

Schroder asked the board to pass a resolution in support of ACT NO. T11-2018PF proposed in the Cattaraugus County Legislature. The act is a request to the county’s Industrial Development Agency that no further PILOT programs be approved so Invenergy would be forced to pay full taxes on any project they build in the town.

Under the PILOT agreement, the area’s fire departments would have to split $190,000. According to Councilman Randy Benjamin, a volunteer with the Franklinville Fire Department, there are 37 fire departments that would have to split that amount. This translates to just over $5,000 per company.

As reported during the meeting, Invenergy would only add 11 permanent jobs for the whole project and if income on a small farm is exceeded by income from Invenergy, the farm would lose its agriculture exempt status and may have to pay back taxes.

The board approved a resolution supporting the county in their effort to block Invenergy from being able to participate in PILOT programs. The ultimate decision is up the the county’s IDA. Schroder believes that if Invenergy is forced to pay full taxes, they may look elsewhere for their project.