ELLSWORTH — It is up to Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) to grant final approval for a wind turbine project in Township 16, but the county commissioners on June 2 approved financial incentives that would benefit the county should the project go forward.
The commissioners voted 2-1 to approve a tax increment financing (TIF) district in Township 16, where Blue Sky East, a subsidiary of First Wind, wants to construct 19 commercial wind turbines.
Commissioner Fay Lawson opposed the measure, which was supported by Chairman Steve Joy and Commissioner Percy Brown.
Under the TIF agreement, the value of the property within the newly established district is frozen, and Blue Sky East will pay property taxes on that value going forward.
The 555-acre TIF district is currently valued at $225,474.
All new value created by the wind energy development project, which is expected to cost $69 million, is not subject to standard property taxation. Instead, the new valuation is calculated and Blue Sky East pays the amount of taxation that would occur without a TIF into a TIF fund.
Money in the TIF fund is used by Blue Sky East and the county, with each entity receiving a portion of the funds based on a negotiated agreement.
Commissioners again voted 2-1 (Lawson) to approve a TIF credit enhancement agreement with Blue Sky East.
Under the agreement, Blue Sky East will receive 70 percent of the TIF fund over the first 20 years of the 30-year agreement.
Hancock County will receive 30 percent for 20 years and 100 percent in the final 10 years. The split would be nearly 50-50 over the 30-year agreement, with Blue Sky East receiving some $4.8 million in projected tax revenue and the county receiving about $4.7 million.
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