Argues that Candlewood Solar is a ‘bad deal’ for New Milford
To the Editor:
Here’s why Candlewood Solar is a bad deal for our town:
Rescue Candlewood Mountain is a coalition of area residents that strongly support renewable energy if it is properly sited.
We believe clear-cutting 72 acres of Core Forest (approximately 15,048 trees) will not save our environment, but it will make a lot of money for some.
Fact: Wells Fargo is selling 163 acres on Candlewood Mountain to Commercial Services Realty for $2 million. It will lease it to Candlewood Solar to build the state’s largest solar utility plant.
Fact: The Connecticut Siting Council has sole jurisdiction for approving this power project - and overrides all local town boards and commissions.
Fact: In January Mayor David Gronbach cast the tie-breaking vote at the Town Council to approve a PILOT agreement with Candlewood Solar. PILOT agreements are supposed to protect the town. This agreement fails on that. Candlewood Solar will operate in secrecy. New Milford waived its rights to audits or otherwise inspect records or declarations. Candlewood Solar has no obligation to file personal property declarations, income, expense or similar forms.
Fact: The town is accepting surety performance bonds, instead of cash bonds. This is of particular concern. New Milford always requests cash bonds from developers. Surety bonds involve a third party and these surety bonds are for minimum amounts “or in any greater amount determined and required by the Siting Council.” But the Siting Council doesn’t require bonds.
Fact: There is no decommissioning plan. Candlewood Solar says it will supply one - but when? It simply states that a surety bond will be provided 180 days prior to the decommissioning - exposing the town to cleanup costs if it simply walks away. We’ve seen this before!
Fact: The abated tax schedule depicts incredibly low payments, starting at $75,000 and breaking $80,000 in year five. That’s less that the average cost of one town employee’s salary with benefits.
Candlewood Solar said it wouldn’t build without a tax abatement and the town just said OK. Some estimates show that it should pay almost three times what it has agreed to!
Fact: Candlewood Solar will have “a lease payment at an annual fixed rate of $450,000, escalated at 2 percent per year.” If Candlewood Solar can afford $9 million over 20 years, can’t it pay the town more?
Fact: Connecticut’s Department of Energy and the Environment passed on this project because “officials believed the projected power prices were too high…” Residents of New Milford won’t have reduced utility bills and all the power’s been contracted to Massachusetts companies.
Fact: There is no agreement with the town to hire locally - just a promise for “commercially reasonable efforts, to give preference to local contractors, subcontractors and workers.”
Fact: There are no jobs. Once operational, the site will be visited by one to two pickup trucks on average three to four times per year. The facility will not be occupied or staffed during normal operation. Is it warranted to give a tax abatement when there are no jobs after construction?
Rescue Candlewood Mountain doesn’t think any of this is right. To learn more, visit www.rescuecandlewood mountain.org.
On Sept. 26, come to the 6:30 p.m. Siting Council Hearing at town hall and say “no!”