By Donna M. Perry | Sun Journal
According to a letter sent to Helix Maine Wind Development on March 4 by the Maine Revenue Services Property Tax Division, the state reduced the valuation of the 44-turbine facility by $54.86 million. As a result, a refund of $469,611.60 is warranted for property in the townships of Wyman, Jim Pond, Kibby, Chain of Ponds and Skinner for tax year 2020, according to supervisor Lisa Whynot’s letter to Helix. The refund to Helix is expected to be issued within four to six weeks.
TransCanada Maine Wind Development estimated in 2006 the wind farm would be a $250 million to $300 million project. The company sought approval from then-Maine Land Use Regulation Commission to have the area rezoned and for a preliminary development plan to construct the turbines on about 13.7 miles of ridge line on Kibby Mountain and Kibby Range in Kibby Township and a small portion of Skinner Township, near the Canadian border. transmission lines, substation and roads were also involved.
The project was approved in 2008 and the turbines were installed in 2009 and 2010. When the company sought another state permit in 2010 to expand the project, the original wind energy facility was estimated to be a $320 million project. Only the 44-turbine, 132-megawatt facility is connected to the county’s TIF.
The state recently did a revaluation of the unorganized territory. According to state abatement information, the wind energy facility was valued at $174.36 million for the properties listed in the abatement request for 2020 tax year, prior to the valuation being reduced.
Magoon’s understanding is that an inappropriate depreciation method was used. There is newer equipment now than when when the facility was first built, she said.
The county entered into an Enterprise Tax-Increment Finance and Development Program in 2008, involving the unorganized territory, with then-owners of the facility, TransCanada Maine Wind Development. The agreement was transferred to Helix when L.S. Power finalized the purchase of the facility in 2017 through its affiliate Helix Generation from TransCanada Corp. There have been three approved amendments to the TIF since it was implemented.
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