WATERTOWN — A Toronto solar developer, and the Florida company that will buy the four arrays it builds in the towns of Orleans and Clayton, received financial support through a tax deal approved Thursday.
The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency approved four payment-in-lieu-of-tax agreements for OYA Solar’s projects, one agreement for each five-megawatt array, but all with the same terms. The agreements grant relief from paying property taxes to company OYA agreed to sell the arrays to, NextEra Energy Resources, for 15 years in exchange for less expensive annual payments to the affected taxing jurisdictions.
Jefferson County Legislator William W. Johnson, who serves on the JCIDA board of directors, said the agreements should abate what the company would pay in taxes after construction of the arrays, which would increase the value of the properties they were built on, by 44 percent over a 15-year-period.
“We are pleased that Jefferson County approved the proposed PILOT agreements,” wrote Rebecca Rivera, marketing manager for NextEra Energy, wrote in a statement. “This positive outcome is the result of the county’s careful review and consideration and ensures that the local economy will reap project benefits for years to come.”
Jefferson County, the towns of Clayton and Orleans and the Thousand Islands and LaFargeville central school districts will receive 15 years of payments from the overall tax deal.
Mr. Johnson said whether each taxing jurisdiction receives payment from a particular agreement depends on whether the associated array resides in its boundaries. The percentage of the payment each taxing jurisdiction receives from an agreement depends on its tax rate, he said.
The county and Thousand Islands Central will receive payments for all agreements, while Orleans will receive them from two, Clayton will receive them for one and LaFargeville Central will also receive them for one.
NextEra Energy, Juno Beach, Fla. will make the highest payment in the first year the agreement takes effect at $35,000 per agreement, or $140,000 combined. The payments will then de-escalate each year for 15 years, and then NextEra will pay full taxation.
Lyle V. Eaton, chief financial officer of the JCIDA’s sister agency, the Jefferson County Local Development Corp., said the agreements take effect on the next taxable status date after the project has been completed and assessed. The taxable status date for the county every year is March 1.
“We just passed a significant PILOT,” said W. Edward Walldroff, secretary for the JCIDA board. “We are generating ($140,000) of additional tax revenue starting on day one that we wouldn’t have otherwise.”
Workers have already begun erecting the four arrays developed by OYA. They will span five properties between Robinson Road and Blanchard Road and have a combined nameplate capacity of 20 megawatts.
Workers should finish building the arrays in March, according to NextEra Energy. As a result of the project, the company claims it has invested $30 million in the local economy and created about 130 temporary construction jobs.
As a community solar project, people can subscribe to the facility in Clayton and Orleans to reduce their electricity costs. Users signed up with the NextEra Energy’s project are expected to cut their costs by 10 percent.
OYA plans to have a fifth 5-megawatt array built off Robinson Road separate from the other 20-megawatt project and maintain ownership of it.