Cohocton Wind Watch: IDA speeds up Galloo wind farm deal
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Friday, October 02, 2009

IDA speeds up Galloo wind farm deal

To meet a developer's request for speed, the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency will begin laying out a property tax relief program for the proposed Galloo Island Wind Farm.

While the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement will follow the formula developed for a uniform tax-exempt policy, JCIDA will not seek approval of the uniform policy now. That would require all affected taxing jurisdictions from the four proposed wind projects to sign on, which officials believe would take too long.

The time pressure comes from the Galloo Island developer, Upstate NY Power Corp., which wants to tap into a Treasury Department program. Wind power developers stand to get a check for 30 percent of the development costs upfront from the Treasury Department if some of the turbines are constructed by the end of 2010.

"We've got a good private investment opportunity here because of the 30 percent buy-in of the federal government," said JCIDA board member W. Edward Waldroff at the board meeting Thursday morning.

Upstate NY Power representative Robert W. Burgdorf said the federal rebates take the place of the Production Tax Credit program. That program hasn't been viable because large corporations haven't needed tax credits in the current economy, as many aren't making large amounts of money.

Upstate NY Power expects to have the environmental review process done in the next few months, with zoning approval following from the town of Hounsfield, said Mr. Burgdorf, attorney with Nixon Peabody, Rochester.

"We've had a lot of great support locally and at the state," he said. "There's real urgency to some of this."

The county Board of Legislators charged JCIDA with creating a uniform policy over a year ago.

"This is not really part of the uniform tax policy," JCIDA CEO Donald C. Alexander said. "It might be considered a model for how the policy would work."

The requested payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement would apply only to the portion of the project in the town of Hounsfield. That limits the number of taxing jurisdictions which need to approve the PILOT to three. At least eight jurisdictions would need to sign off on the uniform policy.

Under the resolution passed Thursday, JCIDA will begin presenting the PILOT plan to Jefferson County, the town of Hounsfield and Sackets Harbor Central School District. Those jurisdictions must also agree on a division of the PILOT payments.

JCIDA will seek agreements on both those items by its December meeting, which Mr. Alexander called a "very compressed time frame."

Upstate NY Power will seek mortgage and sales tax abatements through JCIDA, too, for the rest of the transmission facilities in Jefferson County. The portion of the underwater cable in the town of Henderson and the 230-kilovolt transmission line in Henderson and Ellisburg would be included.

Mr. Burgdorf told JCIDA board members the developer will keep ownership of the line, selling capacity to other power producers. The line will have four times the capacity needed for the Galloo Island project.

"This will help resolve some of the problems we have up here with the grid," Mr. Burgdorf said. "This will open up other possibilities for other electric project needs."

In other JCIDA business, the board approved:

■ A loan modification for the Watertown Family YMCA to reduce fees and allow the YMCA to keep the property after four years even if fundraising for the proposed child-care center is not complete.

■ A $5,000 working capital loan for Jessica L. Rabetoy, owner of Jessie's Pet Spa, Route 283, for five years at 4 percent.

Ms. Rabetoy told the loan review committee she opened her business Sept. 1 and has been very busy since.

"Even though there are quite a few grooming shops in the area, pet owners are usually waiting two to three weeks," she said.

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