There’s still a lot of work left to do, but Howard town board members are looking forward to this spring.
That’s because after two lawsuits and years of work, wind developer EverPower Renewables is planning on breaking ground on a 25-turbine wind project.
There had been little news for months from the company, town Attorney Karl Anderson said.
“All of a sudden, we get communication back two weeks ago wanting everything done,” Anderson said.
The board met Tuesday morning to discuss the project and the agreements needed before even a shovelful of dirt moves.
According to town Attorney Karl Anderson, at least six agreements will need to be developed:
l A Community Host Agreement, which will provide the town with $2,700 per megawatt of wind power, payable annually when the project is completed. The rate will increase 3-percent each year for 20 years. The first payment, if the planned number of turbines are constructed, would be $168,750.
l A cultural mitigation agreement, which will provide the town with $55,000 when the project begins.
l An agreement to repair roads damaged by the heavy equipment involved in construction.
l An escrow account agreement, which will define how funds will be transferred
l An emergency response plan, to tell how police, fire and ambulance crews will respond to emergencies at and around the turbines during construction and once the project is online.
l An agreement on monitoring the site during construction and afterwards by engineering and sound monitoring firms.
One of the biggest questions for the town board was when the money from EverPower would come.
“I don’t think we’re out of line ... wanting some of that up front,” town Supervisor Don Evia said. “I think there’s precedent.”
Evia noted other wind projects across the state, including Cohocton, had front-loaded payment plans — more money at the beginning of the project — and payments often begin before the project is done.
“It’s easier for them to get their money now,” Anderson said, recalling a conversation with EverPower officials. “I think there’s room for negotiation there. The townspeople want to see something in hand.”
Another major point of contention for the board is how the megawatt rating is calculated. Anderson was unsure how the current agreement drafts would calculate the figures, adding company officials wanted to wait until the project was finished to the output could be certified.
Evia added other municipalities do not base their agreements on how much electricity is produced.
“It’s not a question of active production, it’s rated potential,” he said.
The board went into executive session to make a call to EverPower to further negotiations. More discussion is expected at the next town board meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 11.