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PILOT, Host Community Agreement from Heritage Wind would transform Barre

Posted 9 October 2019 at 8:17 am

Editor:

This letter is in response to Elizabeth Wolanyk’s letter on October 3. Her letter contained a lot of misinformation regarding the financial benefits Barre and Orleans County will receive from Heritage Wind.

With this inability to understand elementary facts and with the distortion of fundamental realities, it is not surprising that the poorly informed author of the previous letter to the editor and members of Clears Skies oppose the Heritage project.

First off, a PILOT, or Payment in Lieu of Taxes, is nothing new and is not unique to wind energy projects. A PILOT is primarily a vehicle to establish tax certainty for municipalities and a project. Unlike tax payments, which will decrease with depreciation, the PILOT will increase over time. Also, with a PILOT there is no risk of a reassessment that may require expensive challenges by our town or county.

Ms. Wolanyk correctly points out that PILOTS are shared among taxing jurisdictions, but fails to understand that the majority of the payments that will go to Barre will be made through a Host Community Agreement (HCA), not the PILOT, and those moneys come directly to the town.

In the case of Heritage Wind, both the PILOT and the HCA are still in negotiations, but the project has released that it will pay enough money every year to the town of Barre to about double its current tax revenue. Based on the current proposal before the town, Barre would receive more than (possibly much more than) $20 million in payments, directly to the town for town uses. The PILOT and HCA will be for a term of 20 or more years, not 15 years as Ms. Wolanyk suggested.

Ms. Wolanyk claims, “The Orleans County IDA lists pilot payments to both villages and towns with the villages taking a greater share of PILOT payments than the towns. Whether any villages will receive any PILOT payments from Heritage Wind is unknown but must be considered.” It is apparent that she does not live in or near Barre, because there is no village there to account for.

I am curious as to why Ms. Wolanyk is so concerned about the town of Barre when she lives in Barker, about 30 miles away. Since this letter was published, SOS also paid for an ad in the Pennysaver, trying to push their misinformation about wind turbines onto Barre residents. They are trying to interfere and take away money from a town they do not live in.

If they were truly concerned for our well-being as a town, they would do proper research before releasing false information. I easily found all of my information on the Heritage Wind website and asked Apex questions to learn more about the subject. I have lived in Barre my whole life, and I want my town to get the best deal possible. Heritage Wind is proposing a lot of money that can transform our town, and I don’t think it is wise for Barre to pass that up.

Alice Mathes

Barre