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LeRay asks for longer-term PILOT on investment into biomass plant

LeRay officials are in negotiations for a potential five-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement with ReEnergy Holdings to make building a biomass energy plant more affordable.

LeRay plans to invest about $34 million (€26.4 million) to convert a coal-fired plant into one that produces energy using biomass materials in Fort Drum, New York. To offset those costs, it is seeking to approve the deal with officials from the town, Carthage Central School District and Jefferson County.

‘Our CEO and chief risk officer met with town officials on 10 May to propose the PILOT agreement,’ says LeRay’s administrative clerk to the supervisor, Steven Harter. ‘But, as the project is expected to be completed in two years, town officials are pushing for a two-year PILOT instead.’

The specifics of the payment structure for the PILOT haven’t yet been discussed.

However CEO of the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency, Donald Alexander, has questioned whether officials should be intervening to change the terms of any PILOT agreement.

‘At the end of these PILOT agreements, the assessment of these towns dramatically improves and there’s a clear makeup for any revenue they might lose in sales tax over the life of the PILOT,’ he says. ‘When jurisdictions start negotiating with developers it causes a great deal of uncertainty and drags out the process. Our mission is to get these developments in our community and this makes it difficult.’