Town of Antrim – Board of Selectmen
Public Hearing and Meeting Minutes
July 31, 2017
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM by Chairman Genest in the Antrim Town Hall.
Members Present: Mr. Robertson, Mr. Genest & Mr. Edwards
Staff present: Donna Hanson (Town Administrator)
Others Present: Jack Kenworthy and John Soininen from Antrim Wind Energy, LLC
- Mr. Genest opened the Public Hearing to receive public input on the request by Antrim Wind Energy LLC (AWE) to extend the date in section 2 of the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement from December 31, 2018 to December 31, 2019. Ms. Hanson read the Public Hearing notice and stated that it had been posted in the Messenger newspaper on July 14, 2017, the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript on July 18, 2017 as well as the town hall bulletin board, the local post office bulletin board and the town’s website. Mr. Genest asked Mr. Jack Kenworthy of AWE to open the discussion on the proposal from AWE. Mr. Kenworthy stated that
although they don’t anticipate using the extension they feel there is some comfort in having it. In exchange for the extension they will pay the Town of Antrim $125,000.00 to help recoup legal fees that the town has spent on this project. They have also offered to change some of the verbiage in regards to the switchyard.
Mr. Edwards requested that 3(d) in the PILOT agreement which states “if the commercial operation date has not occurred within 36 months of the start of construction…” be eliminated since the PILOT will have expired before the 36 months. Mr. Kenworthy agreed
and that it could be removed.
Mr. Edwards also requested that the work “reduced” be changed to “unaffected” in section C. Mr. Kenworthy said that the switchyard payments are reduced from the amount of the PILOT payment so “unaffected” would not be correct. The payments are affected by reducing the switchyard payment from the PILOT payment. In the aggregate the payment will be the same.
Attorney Richardson asked if section C page 7 in the title which reads, “Adjustment for Taxes on Switchyard Lot” should be changed from “Taxes” to “Payments” for the Switchyard lot. Mr. Kenworthy said that would be fine.
Mr. Genest proposed that the payment schedule on page 5 section 5 of the PILOT agreement determine the rate at which the town is paid so that for example, if production begins in 2018 the rate would be 12,115. Mr. Edwards agreed. Mr. Kenworthy noted that it would be an increase of a million dollars to the PILOT agreement. Mr. Edwards said it would actually be an increase of $ $859,000.00 over a 20 year period. Mr. Kenworthy stated the spirit of the agreement was that the initial rate be $11,250 regardless of the start date. He added that even though the consumer price index (CPI) for energy has declined AWE is not seeking a reduction in payments.
Mr. Genest read the minutes of November 24, 2014 when AWE came to the Selectmen to ask for an extension. Mr. Genest felt it was a good opportunity to open the contract to make any changes that may be needed. Mr. Genest said, “We gave you a two year extension and now you want another year.” Mr. Kenworthy stated that the delays were not AWE or the Town’s fault. Mr. Kenworthy stated that with all due respect AWE is offering $125,000.00 and cleaning up the language in the contract for extension that might not even be needed. We would be taking the risk of not having a contract and entering in to litigation every year regarding the taxes.
Mr. Edwards said the amount received over the life of the PILOT is not the full 8 million because approximately half will be going to the school and county. Mr. John Soininen of AWE said that the $125,000.00 is a one-time payment and the town would receive 100% of it.
Mr. Genest said he was firm on the on how he feels about using the 2018 or 2019 rate. Mr. Edwards agreed and said the BOS supports this project and he would like to see it moved forward one way or another.
Mr. Genest opened the hearing to public comment.
Karen Weiswange – Delays are not the fault of AWE but rather the people in town that were against the project. More than half the people in town approved the project.
Mr. Genest stated that they aren’t at fault. That’s how the process works.
Jeanna White – Wanted to clarify that there was never an actual ballot vote that ½ the people approved the project.
Barbara Berwick – Sound will affect her property. Property values will be decreased. Get the most you can to make up for reduced taxes due to lower property values.
Robert Southall – Get rid of the PILOT program because it will have a negative effect.
Tim Perry – There was a mistake in the beginning by having a fixed dollar amount. We need to be more careful when doing these contracts in the future. Do the extension and move on.
Margaret Warner – I have always been in favor of AWE. I don’t blame them for wanting insurance. I think we should agree to extend.
Mary Allen – written statement attached
Al Weisswange – I am 100% for the extension. We need clean renewable energy.
Peter Berwin – Stick to the facts. I encourage you to carefully take this under consideration. There are many moving parts to this.
Robert Cleland – Assessment will be going down. Who will pay the taxes the town won’t get?
Ben Pratt – written statement attached
Fred Ward – I live in Stoddard and will see this project more than others that actually live in Antrim. I’m a meteorologist and study climate changes. Justification for the project should not be based on the impact this will have on climate change. It will have very little.
Shelley Nelkens – The energy will be going into high tension line. It will not generate locally. Not worth destroying the hillside because I don’t think it is the wave of the future.
Ken Nenninger – Energy produced by this will never recoup the destruction of wildlife.
Gordon Webber – The additional dollars AWE is offering is very fair. BOS has been supportive all along of this project. Payment dates in the PILOT are only examples. Half going to the school and county is true of all tax dollars the town receives.
John Giffin – I’m in favor of the amendment.
Mr. Genest closed the hearing to public comment.
Mr. Genest stated he is still struggling with the rate.
Mr. Edwards said renewable energy is in a period of flux. There is a lot going on in the industry. Based on improvements in construction it will be cheaper for AWE to build. The Town is offsetting expenses and won’t be income positive until 2020.
Mr. Robertson stated that he agrees with Mr. Webber regarding the tax bill. He does not separate what is paid to the school and county because the town receives services for those tax dollars. Mr. Robertson feels the PILOT payment should be raised due to inflation.
Mr. Kenworthy said that he feels the goal posts have been moved. He said that they have had to incur the delays. He appreciates the support of the BOS but he also feels the $125,000.00 is huge for the extension.
Mr. Genest adjourned to meet with legal counsel.
Mr. Genest resumed the meeting and told Mr. Kenworthy that the BOS would consider starting at a rate of $12,000.00 whether it is 2018 or 2019.
Mr. Kenworthy thanked the BOS and said he would need to model it to see what impact that would have. He will get back to the BOS by the end of the week.
Mr. Genest closed the public hearing. Mr Edwards seconded. Passed 3/0
The second public hearing on the agenda was canceled.
- Mr. Edwards moved to award the oil/propane bid to Discount Oil of Keene. The price for oil was $1.699 and the price for propane was $1.239.
The other bids were:
Rymes – Oil $1.860 Propane $1.389, Ciardelli Fuel Co – Oil $1.819 Propane $1.349.
- Mr. Robertson will write the article for the Limrik this quarter.
- There being no further business, Mr. Robertson moved to adjourn, Mr. Edwards seconded, passed 3/0. Meeting adjourned at 8:45 PM.
Respectfully submitted, Donna Hanson, Town Administrator