Avangrid Renewables offering to aid in electric bills for Hopkinton residents
By MATT LINDSEY
HOPKINTON -- Avangrid Renewables is introducing an Electric Bill Offset Program for residents that would pay 75 percent of their annual residential electric bills for 30 years after the commercial operation date.
Letters from Scott L. McDonald, lead/senior business developer for Avangrid, were sent to Hopkinton residents detailing the electric bill program as well as updates from the wind company on PILOTS, taxes, direct annual payments and blinking lights.Avangrid plans to build 27 turbines on land in Hopkinton. They previously had plans to build in nearby Parishville, but have since pulled out of the town.
“All town residents with permanent residences are eligible except for those residents who have an existing wind farm agreement or municipal officials,” according to Paul Copleman, spokesman for Avangrid. Copleman says the program would pay 75 percent of a qualifying resident’s annual residential electrical bill up to $1,200 per year
“To clarify this option offered by Avangrid, it originally came about as a ‘what if we were to offer (situation),’” Hopkinton Town Supervisor Susan Wood said.
However, when Wood was first approached about it, she said it was only for those in the actual project area. “I informed them that it would need to include the entire town or no one.”
When Wood did not hear any more about it, she thought the issue was dropped and did not mention anything to board members.
She wasn’t aware that the program was back on the table until she read about it in Avangrid’s letter mailed to town residents.
“As I previously mentioned, there are many questions that would need to be answered on this program -- what exactly would the 75 percent cover, would this be considered as income that needed to be taxed, are there contracts that would need to be signed by residents to qualify, if the property was sold, would the agreement continue, would this be a yearly or monthly benefit, etc.”
Hopkinton resident Janice Pease sent out many questions via email to Avangrid and shared some of her concerns with North Country This Week. Among the issues raised were: Will people receiving the electricity benefit need to claim it on their taxes? Is there a minimum amount that the program will pay a person/household? What do people have to do to get the project started? If you have no electricity (Amish or off-grid), then what does Avangrid offer?
“Most of us would rather just keep what we have,” she said.
Pease claimed she called several phone numbers listed for Avangrid but she was unable to get any answers that way. She also claims a National Grid representative she spoke with could not give her any information about the program.
In its letter, Avangrid addressed blinking lights during the night.
“We’ve heard that residents will see the blinking lights all night long,” McDonald said. In response, Avangrid says they are committed to significantly reducing the project’s visual impact by installing a FAA-approved radar-activated lighting system designed to turn the blinking obstruction lighting on or off based on aircraft activity.
McDonald said company officials have heard rumblings that the wind company is not going to pay their fair share of taxes.
“We’re committed to paying an estimated $750,000 in annual PILOT/Host Community Agreement payments over 30 years for a 100 MW project to the town, county and school district,” McDonald said. “These payments will increase each year. This revenue will represent a significant portion of the Town’s annual budget. We’re also going to pay our fair share of special district taxes. For example, it’s estimated that the Town’s fire district will receive $30,000 to $40,000 annually from Avangrid.”
Given the public’s concern over this issue, McDonald says Avangrid has agreed to pay up to $30,000 for the cost of an appraiser chosen by the town, county and school district to address the matter.
To read the entire letter, visit http://www.avangridrenewables.us/northridge/index.html.