ELLICOTTVILLE — The Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency’s tax policy for eligible commercial wind projects was amended Tuesday to the same level as solar projects.
The IDA board of directors agreed to increase the payment in lieu of taxes (P.I.L.O.T.) by $3,000 to $8,000 per megawatt, which is the same as the agency’s solar P.I.L.O.T.
The IDA also codified in an amended eligible projects policy that no wind project would be considered by the board without letters of support from the Cattaraugus County Legislature and municipalities where the proposed project is located.
Three years ago, Farmersville and Freedom opponents of the proposed $455 million Alle-Catt Wind Farm pushed for a ban on IDA tax breaks for the project. County legislators asked the IDA not to grant P.I.L.O.T.s for large commercial wind projects.
The proposed Alle-Catt project stretches over 30,000 acres in three counties. The IDAs in Allegany County and Wyoming County have both approved applications for P.I.L.O.T.s from Alle-Catt. Without the tax breaks, wind farms would have to pay property taxes on their value, which they cannot afford to do.
Last year, the IDA increased the P.I.L.O.T. for solar installations from $5,000 to $8,000. The installations are not taxed on their value, but pay a P.I.L.O.T. that is shared between the school district, municipality and county. The IDA also increased its solar P.I.L.O.T.S. to 25 years last year.
Another concern addressed in the IDA’s action Tuesday was a solar decommissioning fund, a requirement for a cash bond, a performance bond or letter of credit to cover the costs of dismantling solar projects.
For wind projects, a decommissioning bond of up to $150,000 per megawatt will be required to remove the towers, turbines and foundations to 4 feet below the surface of the ground.
The IDA’s wind policy had not been changed since it was first passed in 2011, said Corey Wiktor, IDA executive director.
There was some discussion over a proposal to include comments from towns adjacent to the municipalities where the turbines up to 600 feet to 800 feet will be visible.
“Are we going to say we’re not going to approve it,” based on opposition from a neighboring town, IDA board member Joseph Higgins asked.
Ginger Schroder, an IDA board member from Farmersville, said it should be decided “on a case by case basis.”
The IDA board agreed to set a public hearing on a proposed 5-megawatt community solar farm on Dunkleman Hill Road, town of Otto. The town has submitted a letter of approval and a State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) document outlining no significant impact.
Developer Dimension Energy of Atlanta, Ga., said the $8.5 million project would sit on 33 acres that is surrounded by forests and about 1,000 feet from the closest road, Dake Hill Road. It will power up to 1,000 homes.
No one will be able to see it,” said James Bedrin, project developer.
Local residents and others will be eligible to sign up for an energy discount through the community solar program, Bedrin said.
A public hearing will be scheduled in the coming weeks to gauge public interest, Wiktor said.
Board members also agreed to set a public hearing for a proposed $4.1 million project proposed by Holiday Valley to replace the Yodeler chairlift with a state-of-the-art detachable quad chairlift.
Wiktor said the project to remove the existing Yodeler chairlift, construct new tower foundations and the chairlift itself will use local labor. He said it was encouraging that Win-Sum Ski Corp. was investing $4.1 million in the middle of a pandemic.