Hancock to Sue Brodie Mountain Power Coop
The small Berkshire community of Hancock, population 775, is not taking a change in their reimbursement lying down, not while they negotiate a new agreement for payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) with the Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative Corporation.
Sherman Derby, left, is chair of the board of selectmen. Reporting in the Berkshire Eagle (“Hancock, Brodie Mountain wind power firm at odds over payments” 3/4/15), Scott Stafford quotes Derby:
Green energy is great, but when they have to pay green money, it’s a problem. They’re making more money than they thought they would, but we’re not getting anything.
The issue for Hancock is to hold out for a PILOT value of $156,600 to match the original agreement which expired in 2014. The Berkshire Wind coop of 14 communities has paid $147,000, but the select board voted to return the check.
iBerkshires staff writer Stephen Dravis indicates that Hancock believes the cooperative is getting a deal with its proposal (“Hancock Suing Berkshire Wind Over PILOT Payments” 3/3/15).
Derby said that while it is true personal property—like the turbines—depreciate, the utility is generating more power from the 10 turbines than it projected before they were built and if it agreed to another three-year PILOT, it would be able to lock in the current tax rate.
“Do you think Hancock’s tax rate is going to be $2.48 three years from now?” Derby said. “They’re getting the benefit of that rate for three years. That would make up any depreciation they got.”
The ongoing dispute escalated on Tuesday when the Hancock board voted to authorize a suit against the power cooperative, WAMC radio’s Jim Levulis reported March 4th in “Hancock Suing Berkshire Wind Cooperative Over Payment Disputes.” Listen to the Midday Magazine report.
According to their own press release, issued November 2014, the Berkshire Wind Power Cooperative is doing very well.
Wind speeds atop Brodie Mountain average about 8 meters/second, making it one of the best inland wind sites in Massachusetts. The project achieved its expected average capacity factor of 40% during the past year, meaning it produced about 40% of its potential output, which is above wind industry standards.
The 10-turbine, 15-megawatt project began operation at Brodie Mountain in Hancock MA in 2011.