North Country
2:18 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Wind Farm Owner And Coos County Wrangle Over Payments

Wind turbines seen from Mount Kelsey in Northern Coos County.
Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR
Audio of newscast.

Just as other wind farms are being considered around the state, Coos County officials are fighting with the operator of the 33 turbines located in their county over payment.

The county contends Brookfield Renewable Energy owes it twice as much as Brookfield wants to pay.

In 2008 three Coos County Commissioners approved a deal under which -  instead of taxes - the county expected to get payments of about $495,000 each year for a decade.

But now Brookfield says it only owes the county half of that, says Jennifer Fish, the Coos County Administrator.

Brookfield spokeswoman Joanne Walsh says the amount of the payment “is directly tied to the amount of electricity we are permitted to produce.”

Coos contends the payment was to be based on the capacity of the wind farm to produce electricity.

Brookfield declined to to provide a copy of the disputed contract, but Coos County officials supplied one.

The contract says, in part, the county will receive money for wind turbine generators that “are actually installed and either generating energy or capable of generating energy and permitted to generate energy as required by applicable law.”

Brookfield’s Walsh also said the amount of electricity the 33 turbines could provide “has often been curtailed at the direction of New England ISO.”

She said transmission failures last year on some of the turbines was not a factor in producing less energy.

ISO New England operates the region’s high-voltage power grid and wholesale electricity markets. A spokeswoman said it couldn't discuss actions involving specific companies.

The deal for a payment in lieu of taxes made by the three county commissioners in 2008 was controversial because it was done before public hearings on the project.

Some critics also thought the county could have gotten more money by insisting taxes be paid.

Recently elected Coos County Commissioner Rick Samson campaigned, in part, on that position. He defeated longtime commissioner Bing Judd.