What will be the least damaging scenario for Freedom?

Discussions continued Monday night about Beaver Ridge Wind’s abatement request. Only a handful of Freedom residents attended the meeting, which was sad to see. I am wondering if residents are so discouraged by this whole business that most are just dealing with whatever new developments come. Or worse, packing up and moving out of town.

Also present at the meeting, was Mike Rogers from the Maine Revenue Property Tax Division. He answered questions about the Beaver Ridge Wind projects abatement request as well as discussed the various ways that other towns in Maine had handled their own valuations.

Other projects mentioned were the Saddleback Ridge Wind project in Carthage, the Record Hill Wind project in Roxbury, and the Spruce Mountain Wind project in Woodstock. Mr. Rogers explained that some of the projects decided to go with a straight line depreciation approach, while others pursued other venues. One thing he pointed out was that most of these towns had determined how to handle their projects’ valuation costs during initial negotiations so that this type of “cliff” didn’t present itself.

What also sets Beaver Ridge Wind apart from these projects is that most of these towns negotiated for a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) or some another from of Community Benefit Fund that could be used to off-set some of the final costs of their wind projects. Freedom negotiated for none of these. One resident spoke up and asked if negotiations could be put forth, now, for some type of compensation. I’m not sure that question was ever fully answered.

Purposed scenarios were passed around at the meeting and Mr. Rogers touched upon most of them briefly getting into terms, lengths, and ultimate outcomes. From there the discussion mostly focused on what option would be the least damaging to the town. I think the most favorable scenario among the residents present was 6. Scenario #3 (with some amendments), but it was hard to determine without seeing each scenario presented in it’s entirety.

Expected life of the turbines: 2009 thru 2028 value in 2028 as a % of $9,872,011
1. BRW: 30% abatement for 2014 – 5% straight line depreciation per year beginning 2015 thru 2028 30%
2. Town response: No abatement for 2014 – 5% depreciation for 2015 – valuation adjusted each year based upon FERC report 95% or less
3. BRW: 5% abatement for 2014 – 7.5% S/L depreciation per year 2015 thru 2018 – 5% S//L per year beginning in 2019 until turbines have reached 30% of original value in 2015 – $2,961,603 30%
4. Scenario #1: 5% abatement for 2014 – 5% depreciation for 2015 – adjust valuation each year based upon FERC report 90% or less
5. Scenario #2: 5% depreciation for 2015 – 2% declining depreciation per year beginning 2016 thru 2028. Value in 2028 would be $7,211,161 73%
6. Scenario #3: 18% abatement for 2014 (3% per year) – 3% S/L beginning 2015 thru 2028. Value in 2028 would be $2,961,603 30%
7. Scenario #4: 5% abatement for 2014 – 3% S/L beginning 2015 thru 2024 – 10% S/L beginning 2025 thru 2028. Value in 2028 $2,961,603 0%
8. Scenario #5: 0% for 2014 – 7.5% 2015 thru 2018 – co-funded audit for 2019 valuation ?%
9. Scenario #6: 0% for 2014 – 15% depreciation for 2015 – co-funded audit for 2016 valuation ?%

I only touched upon some highlights of the meeting. There was a bunch of back and forth about the life of the turbines and how much the town will end up paying even after the projected 20 year life expectancy of the project that I didn’t go into. There was also a very brief discussion about what the outcome of letting the matter go before the State Board of Property Tax Review would be. My husband and I left the meeting feeling a little overwhelmed with data, but under the impression that no concrete resolution had been reached.

Which scenario would you choose? Or would you let the it go to the state level?