A report developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, “Wind Energy Guide for County Commissioners,” says wind energy projects are proven economic development drivers in the areas where they are sited. The report says that on average, 40 to 140 jobs are created during the construction phase for every 100 MW of installed capacity and 6 to 10 new jobs are created during the operations phase for every 100 MW of installed capacity.
SLWF represents a private capital investment in excess of $150 million. The construction phase will provide immediate stimulus to the community with jobs and the flow of money into the local economy through purchases of goods and services needed to support the project’s construction and operation. Some local businesses to benefit include hotels, restaurants, convenience stores, gas stations and building materials suppliers.
In New York State, it is common for wind developers to work with a county’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA) to obtain a Payment-In-Lieu-Of-Taxes (PILOT) agreement that details the tax revenue the local community can expect to receive from the wind company over a set period of time. These PILOT agreements are authorized under state law to encourage economic development, job creation, and tax revenue growth that may not otherwise take place. Generally, a wind developer will agree with the IDA on annual payments based on a project’s installed generation capacity ($/MW) and a time frame for those payments. The payments will be shared according to a state-law formula unless the local tax jurisdictions agree with the IDA to a different sharing arrangement.
Turbine manufacturer Acciona will submit an application to the Jefferson County IDA to develop a PILOT for the St. Lawrence Wind Farm that sets payments to the Town of Cape Vincent and several others. Payments and allocation among the jurisdictions is not yet determined, but it is estimated based on the current project size of 76.5MW, that total payments over the PILOT’s 20-year term will exceed $20 million.
The incremental funds have a significant impact on the current school, county, and town budgets, especially because they come without a significant added burden of resource use often associated with tax revenue from traditional businesses. By law, the PILOT agreement for the St. Lawrence Wind Farm will not reduce the amount of New York State aid provided to the host school districts.