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BETHLEHEM – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer of New York delivered some news on Monday, saying that the Port of Albany’s proposed offshore wind farm tower manufacturing site on the Hudson River in Glenmont will be awarded $29.5 million in federal funding to get the $350 million project off the ground.
Now the town of Bethlehem is chipping in with a sales tax exemption. The proposed facility is slated for the expanded port just south of the Albany city line in Bethlehem.
The town is helping the port obtain nearly $900,000 in state sales tax exemptions, although the Bethlehem Industrial Development Agency, which will arrange for the tax breaks, will also earn substantial fees from the project – more than $600,000 over three years.
Offshore wind farms represent the next frontier in renewable energy generation in the U.S. The turbines and supporting towers are much larger than even traditional wind turbines built in the countryside since they must be erected in the ocean or other large bodies of water. However, the wind farms are also capable of generating a lot more electricity than traditional wind turbines due to their size.
The IDA acts as a pass-through entity on economic development projects in town that create significant numbers of jobs. The tax exemptions are passed through the IDA onto the company or developers that own the business, and the town earns a fee on the arrangement.
IDAs operate all throughout the state, giving individual towns a way to provide businesses incentives to create jobs and grow the town’s property tax base.
The wind turbine tower project involves three well-known companies in the wind energy sector: Marmen of Quebec, Welcon of Denmark and Equinor of Norway.
The three companies are partnering to build the wind turbine tower manufacturing site, to employ 550 people and supply turbines for two offshore wind farms being built in waters off New York state.
The site will be located along the Hudson River on land that the Port of Albany plans to acquire just south of the port’s main facilities in the city of Albany.
A term sheet, sort of an unofficial document that lays out the terms of a proposed contract negotiated between the IDA and the port, says that the sales tax exemptions will cover the acquisition of 81 acres along the Hudson and the construction of four buildings with a total of 560,000 square feet of space.
The land purchase and the building construction has a $235 million price tag, one of the largest single business investments in Bethlehem in a while.
The Bethlehem IDA will arrange $853,000 in sales tax breaks for the port under the term sheet.
In exchange, the IDA will receive an upfront payment of $303,258 from the port, which will also make annual payments of $117,607 to the IDA in 2023, 2024 and 2025.
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