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Wed., May. 6
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Roaring Brook wind farm on hold

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MARTINSBURG — A weak energy market may delay construction — perhaps indefinitely — of the proposed Roaring Brook wind farm.

While all involved taxing jurisdictions have now signed off on a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan, the developer has yet to determine whether and when construction will begin.

"Development work continues, but we are continuing to see soft pricing in the near-term energy market and consequently have not set a construction start date," Paul C. Copelman, a communications manager with Iberdrola Renewables, said via e-mail. "Still, it's a hugely important step to have agreed to terms with the taxing jurisdictions, and we are thankful for their hard work to help bring the project closer to fruition."

Atlantic Wind, a subsidiary of Iberdrola, is proposing a 39-turbine, 78-megawatt wind farm on 5,280 acres just south of the 195-turbine Maple Ridge Wind Farm. Iberdrola co-owns Maple Ridge.

The Lewis County Legislature and Martinsburg Town Council by early May approved a proposed PILOT agreement that would pay up to $24 million over 20 years.

And the final holdout, the Lowville Academy and Central School District board, signed off on the deal Tuesday.

"The board was very pleased with the terms," District Superintendent Kenneth J. McAuliffe said. "We're hoping this will help move it forward in the project planning."

School board members, while informally supportive of the plan, decided to withhold approval while $6.7 million withheld from last year's annual Maple Ridge payment remained in dispute, he said.

"There was reluctance until the other matter was adjudicated or at least settled," Mr. McAuliffe said.

Early last month, the wind farm and its taxing jurisdictions reached a tentative deal that would provide for release of the funds. All have since adopted it and are awaiting court approval of the settlement.

The proposed PILOT would offer $8,000 per megawatt with an annual cost-of-living increase of 2.5 percent to 5 percent. If Iberdrola or a related developer gives approval for higher per-megawatt payments on projects in Jefferson or Herkimer counties in Roaring Brook's first three years of payments, the per-megawatt amount would rise to the higher level.

The terms are similar to an agreement approved earlier this year by the Herkimer County Legislature for Atlantic Wind's 37-turbine Hardscrabble Wind Farm project there. Construction has since begun on that project.

According to a potential pay schedule assuming construction in 2011, projected revenues over 20 years would range from $17.17 million to $23.89 million.

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