Last week, during a special meeting of the Broome County Industrial Development Agency Board of Directors, following a second public hearing for the Bluestone Wind Farm project proposed by Northland Power, the Board voted to approve the project with seven votes in favor, one against and one abstention. The Bluestone Wind Farm project was originally proposed by Calpine Inc. before the project was sold to Northland Power in May 2020, who elected to continue the pursuit of a PILOT agreement with The Agency.
The original PILOT application requested a 30-year deviated PILOT which was rejected by The Agency Board during their October 2020 meeting. Issues such as the average life span of the turbines, typically twenty years, not matching with the length of the PILOT concerned the Board who wanted to ensure the municipalities and school districts involved would see the full financial benefit of the project. After the original application was rejected, the municipalities of Sanford and Windsor worked with Northland Power and The Agency to submit a revised application for a standard 20-year PILOT agreement.
“When this started out, I didn't think that the original proposal to the IDA really met the reliability factor, or the standard that I have. But I think with the way that the developer came back, certainly, I think the reliability, or the probability of the towns, and the schools getting their money, is much higher now. Because now this PILOT matches up to the useful life,” said Board Member Joseph Mirabito during the meeting.
With the acceptance of the new PILOT application, the Bluestone Wind Farm project is estimated to provide more than $1.8 million in PILOT and host community payments to the Town of Windsor and an estimated $800,000 to the Town of Sanford each year. Municipal and Broome County executives all agree the PILOT will provide a much-needed revenue stream for critical capital projects, and a lawyer representing the forty landowners set to receive the annual lease payments believes this direct financial support for landowners and businesses will boost the local economy as well.
The project was approved by the New York State Public Service Commission to erect a total of twenty-seven turbines, with twenty-three in the Town of Sanford and four in the Town of Windsor. Approximately 150 temporary construction jobs over the two-year construction period and four permanent positions will be generated from the project specifically utilizing local labor, another boost to the local economy. Once completed, the turbines can provide enough clean energy to power 20,000 houses according to Northland Power, taking a step in the right direction towards accomplishing New York State’s green energy goals.
Going forward, in anticipation of similar clean energy projects to be presented, The Agency has committed itself to developing a uniform approach to large-scale renewable projects.