Draft Proposal For Noble Ridge 2


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Draft Proposal For Noble Ridge 2

  1. 1. Noble Ridge Easton, NH Map 2, Lot 32 812.58 acres Fall/Winter 2009-2010 ©2008-2010 All rights reserved. Page 1
  2. 2. DRAFT PROPOSAL FOR NOBLE RIDGE B 812.58 AC., EASTON, NH By: George & Sara Foss April, May & December 2, 2009 This paper describes our vision for the future of our property located in the Northwest corner of the Town of Easton, bordered by Sugar Hill & Landaff. Plan A would be a Town-owned wind farm of approximately 10 turbines. Plan B would be a very large lot subdivision. We prefer Plan A for the reasons below. There is strong empirical evidence that abundant winds are present with enough average speed to make a project feasible, however, a wind developer, and more importantly, its bank, will demand actual data for at least one year, preferably two. We need an accurate Wind Rose for the site. A Wind Rose is a statistical plot of wind speed and direction data on a compass rose, to indicate average wind from whatever direction. It is the average winds, not the peaks that determine the feasibility of a potential wind site. At the end of this presentation, we will be asking the Town through its proper Board(s) for permission to erect a temporary wind measuring device at the height of land, which will stand on an approximately 6 inch diameter shaft to take data for up to a two year period. The height of the device must be at least 60 meters. We have identified a potential consultant in Waterbury, VT to erect the tower, take the data, and remove it. The tower contains a cell phone with a photocell charger so that the data can be read remotely. At the end of the two year period, a wind developer will be identified that will comply with both our wishes and the wishes of the Town of Easton. ©2008-2010 All rights reserved. Page 2
  3. 3. Lastly, we emphasize that while there will be no cost to the Town during the investigation phase, it is our vision that the Town will become the ultimate owner of the site and the beneficiary of both the tax revenue and the owner=s share of the wind income. To this end, we will request the Town to issue us a non-binding letter of support for the idea, and to generally speak with one voice going forward. We wish to acknowledge the assistance of Richard Polonsky, visiting professor at Brown University, in evaluating this idea. What follows is an exchange of e-mails of last April and May between George Foss, Mr. Polonsky, and a George Kendrick of Stantec Consulting in Maine, referred by Mr. Polonsky as a wind expert. As I contemplate the future for this property, I feel that your suggestion of a Community Wind Project would make the most sense. Here's how I visualize it: 1. A bargain sale price for the land would be quoted to the town, which would vote at Town Meeting and issue a bond for the price. Interest on the bond would be offset by revenue from the turbines. 2. A wind developer would be in line to develop the site. 3. The Town, knowing that it will ultimately receive the deed would speak (hopefully) with one voice and approve the permits on the local level. The State Site Evaluation Committee would presumably have to approve also. 4. When the permits are in place, the land would be appraised, and I would receive the tax deductible Bargain Sale from the difference between what the ©2008-2010 All rights reserved. Page 3
  4. 4. town would pay and the appraised value of the site with permits, taking #5 (below) into account. 5. Before the deed would pass, I would place a Conservation Easement on the site, with the wind infrastructure reserved out; also the route of a road to the summit for a Town Look-off, which would be constructed by the wind developer to access the machines. I would propose that a local land trust (Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust) would hold this easement; it has one already to the north of the site (Stewart), so ours would add to its holdings. 6. The town in its purchase would possibly be assisted financially by a grant for a Town Park; apparently, there are presently funds available for this. 7. The tax assessment of the site (after the turbines are in place) would increase by about $20 million or perhaps more; the town gets to tax this value annually. Note: The 2008 valuation of the entire Town of Easton, NH was $64.8 million; the turbines could represent almost a third of the total town assessment, dropping local tax rates dramatically. 8. In addition, the town would get the revenue from the machines. 9. Lastly, if the NH Electric Coop is the utility to take the power, most of the Easton residents are on this system, and would directly benefit from the "Green Power." The other taker of the power would be Public Service Co. of NH, which has a 120 KV line next to the site (available capacity unknown). If PSNH takes the power, it would go to the grid. 10. As far as the question of whether it's legal for a NH town to do this, I point out that the Town of Littleton, NH (among others) has its own electric ©2008-2010 All rights reserved. Page 4
  5. 5. department, and the Town of Bethlehem owns and operates a golf course and country club. What do you think of this proposal? I had another thought overnight. In the late 1970's, Portsmouth , NH attempted to tax a certain business operating on its municipal pier. The city's argument was that the business should pay property taxes on the space on the pier it was using, even though it was city owned. In a lawsuit over the matter, the city won. Then, friends of mine operated Granite State Concessions in Franconia Notch in state- owned buildings like the Tramway and the Peabody Base Lodge. The Town of Franconia attempted to tax them, and the case went to the NH Supreme Court; the town won. So, I probably would not have to do a fancy carve out of the deed given to Easton, as there is ample precedent for a town or city to assess real estate taxes on businesses operating on municipal land. The developer would have to understand all of that going in. I think I'm right on the tax point, and I regret my letter didn't cover it: If I carve out several 3 acre parcels (one for each machine) and lease each of them to the developer before passing the deed to the Town, and then assign the lease to the Town (in such a way as to avoid legal merger), then I believe ©2008-2010 All rights reserved. Page 5
  6. 6. the Town can tax the property and get the revenue from the lease too. The Town would own approximately 815 acres outright, with about 15 – 30 of these leased out for wind generation. I picked 3 acres because that's the zoning unit in Easton, and I wanted to avoid a variance hearing on that point too. There will be plenty of others...... Comment from George Kendrick, consultant: You have an innovative approach, particularly with the conservation easement. A number of towns in New England are developing their own wind projects, though most are 1 or 2 turbines. But there's plenty of precedent. The trick will be making sure the project is supported by the entire town. The state's Site Evaluation Committee considers "public benefit" issues along with lots of other topics, so having the town behind it (or owning it) will be key. George Foss again: I was interested to learn from our call on April 3 that it is possible to lease USFS land for wind power. As I mentioned on the phone, the National Forest borders us on the south, effectively extending the ridgeline. More notes for December 2, 2009: The NH PUC has been consulted. They do not have to be involved in projects under 30 MW, but can be called in by the Town if it wishes. We think the local schools will be very interested in the project. The science teachers can get involved and be part of the project from the beginning. ©2008-2010 All rights reserved. Page 6
  7. 7. As a suggestion, Easton could appoint a committee of interested parties to advise on and follow the progress of the project. The Town of Easton would have more than two years to make its final decision. It would have to do so after the data is in, after it=s been reduced, and after a responsible wind developer has been found. So, to sum up: 1. We need permission to take wind data at the top of Map 2, Lot 32 for 2 years at 60 meter height per industry standard. 2. After the initial hearings this winter, we request a non-binding letter of support from the Town. 3. We request the consideration of the appointment of an Advisory Board. ©2008-2010 All rights reserved. Page 7