Rescind the AEZ

Feb. 26, we attended a special Erie County commissioner’s meeting that was called to hear both sides of the debate regarding the Emerson Creek wind turbine project as to whether the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) should be approved for the project. Despite the claims by Apex that the revenue generated from the PILOT would exceed the tax revenue if the PILOT was not granted (only possible due to some creative and incomplete accounting), the commissioners voted 3-0 against granting the PILOT, to the cheers of the standing-room-only crowd in attendance. Apex publically stated prior to the vote that they will construct the project with or without the PILOT. If so, why wouldn’t the county position itself to get the most tax revenue they can?

This same debate and vote cannot take place in Seneca County because the AEZ (alternative energy zone) is in place, which automatically grants the PILOT once a renewable energy project is certified as a qualified energy project. Therefore, there is no discussion and no vote in Seneca County.

Furthermore, the PILOT funding is fixed at $9,000 per megawatt rating of the project. The tax rate is based on 2011 dollars and is fixed for the life of the project. What a sweetheart deal for the wind companies.

So in Seneca County, we don’t discuss, we don’t vote and we accept lower tax payments from the wind companies. Erie and Huron counties do not have an AEZ in place and they are better off because of it.

Despite the efforts of Commissioner Mike Kerschner, who motioned to rescind the AEZ on two different occasions, our two pro-wind commissioners failed to second the motion. It is long overdue to correct this situation.

We are asking our county commissioners to finally rescind the AEZ as soon as possible.

Greg and Janeen Smith,