Friday, March 27, 2009

FREEDOM Wind-turbine firm wants tax shelter

Kennebec Journal

FREEDOM -- A consulting firm will propose a tax-increment financing zone for representing Beaver Ridge Wind during a meeting tonight.
Selectman Ron Price said Tuesday that the select board and the public alike will be able to comment on the proposals. The meeting in the basement of the Freedom Congregational Church begins at 6.

Price said that Eaton Peabody of Augusta has put together TIF plans on behalf of the town.

The company built three 400-foot energy-generating turbines last year on Beaver Ridge, on land it leased from Price.

"They're going to make a proposal with several different scenarios as to how it could be beneficial to the town," Price said.

TIFs are tax shelters that protect communities from valuation. The communities, in turn, provide a certain portion of the tax rebates to developers that bring in jobs. Often, town or cities offer TIFs to attract companies to locate there, in the interest of economic development.

Last summer, following a lengthy process, Beaver Ridge got the go-ahead to build its wind turbines. Residents voted 159-112 to reject a commercial-development review ordinance that might have hampered the company's plans to build the turbines.

Opponents of the turbines complained that they would disrupt the scenery and quiet of the rural lifestyle.

Mat Eddy, executive director of the Eaton Peabody Consultants Group, will make tonight's presentation.

"I will be speaking on behalf of the town, to work them through the thought process of the TIF, whether it serves the town's interests, the developer's interests or both interests," he said.

Eddy said communities and developers normally split TIF tax rebates in a range of 40 to 60 percent, either way.

"This is a little unusual in that the turbines are already in place," he said. "Usually, the TIF proposal happens before the development takes place."

Beaver Ridge Wind's turbines have a value of about $10 million, Eddy said. Over each year of the 30-year period of the TIF, he said, the town might realize $170,000 in reimbursed taxes.

Eaton Peabody would help the town and the company negotiate how to split that money, Eddy said.

The town must use its share for economic development, such as revolving loans for new businesses or road construction, Eddy said.

Larry Grard -- 861-9239


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