The Broome County Industrial Development Agency has approved a new tax break proposal for a 27-turbine wind power facility in the towns of Windsor and Sanford.
A vote Tuesday by IDA members was 7-1 in favor of a much-debated 20-year payment in lieu of taxes agreement for Northland Power to build the Bluestone Wind project in eastern Broome County. The project has been met with opposition from many local residents but has secured the necessary state and local permits.
Under terms of the PILOT agreement, Bluestone Wind would pay about $231,420 annually to the various taxing authorities, and that amount would increase to about $1 million a year in taxes once the PILOT agreement expires, according to IDA Executive Director Stacey Duncan.
Earlier this fall, the IDA rejected a combined $34 million tax incentive package sought by Bluestone Wind in a 30-year PILOT period.
“When this started out, I didn’t think the original proposal to the IDA really met the reliability factor,” said IDA board member Joseph Mirabito at Tuesday’s meeting. “But I think the way the developer came back, the probability of the towns and schools getting their money is much higher.”
Town of Windsor and Town of Sanford officials previously voiced willingness to pursue the 20-year PILOT after the agency’s earlier rejection of the deal.
“Our opportunity for economic development is with our natural resources,” Town of Windsor Supervisor Carolyn Price said during a special agency meeting in November called to consider an appeal from municipal officials. “We have to capitalize on what we have.”
IDA Board Secretary Richard Bucci, who voted Tuesday against approving the reduced PILOT, questioned how much investment from taxpayers was actually needed for the project.
“Maybe in the future, we should start to take a harder look at these 30-year PILOT proposals – in many cases we’re told if we don’t do it, the project won’t move. These developers said the same thing,” Bucci said before Tuesday’s vote. “They needed a 30-year PILOT, and by us rejecting it, they came back with a 20-year PILOT.”
In its original application, Bluestone promised two full-time permanent jobs and 70 construction jobs over the two-year length of the construction process.
Once erected, the turbines would produce enough juice to supply about 20,000 residences at full capacity, Bluestone said.
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