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Warren County to see less money from solar array at airport

Warren County to see less money from solar array at airport

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Solar company to lease space for array at Warren County airport

Warren County is entering into a lease with Nexamp, which plans to lease 50 acres of land at Warren County airport for a solar array. The county is going to see less money from the deal than originally thought. 

QUEENSBURY — Warren County will get less money from a project by a company to lease space at Warren County airport for solar arrays because of a reduction in state incentives.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors on Friday agreed to enter into a revised, less profitable contract with Nexamp.

The solar energy company is leasing 50 acres of property — 28 acres on the north side and 22 acres on the south side — to install a system totaling 13 megawatts of power.

Nexamp will pay the county about $4.2 million. The company was originally going to pay about $6.6 million to lease the property over 25 years.

The higher amount was contingent on Nexamp receiving a certain amount of tax incentives from New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, however.

Public Works Commissioner Kevin Hajos said the state abruptly closed the eligibility period to qualify for the tax incentive. Nexamp officials had anticipated that the period, or “block” for the incentive would remain open into June or July, but it closed May 10.

Dallas Manson, business development manager for Nexamp, told the county’s Facilities Committee at its meeting the company had been working to complete the engineering and provide the state with the required reports, as well as working with National Grid.

In the midst of getting all the work done, the authority closed the eligibility period for the higher tax incentive, so Nexamp now will have to settle for a lower one.

One concern Nexamp officials expressed is that if this project is held up, another company would scoop up the incentives and connection space.

Some supervisors had concerns about the drop of about $2.4 million and wondered whether the county should hold off.

Queensbury Supervisor John Strough proposed tabling the resolution. He believes the county should get a second opinion about whether this is a good deal.

“It reminds me of the Siemens’ report, and that board decided then that they didn’t need an independent consultant’s report and you know how that turned out,” he said, referring to the county’s contract for its cogeneration plant, which did not deliver the promised savings.

Glens Falls 2nd Ward Supervisor Peter McDevitt seconded the motion.

Warrensburg Supervisor Kevin Geraghty said he did not want to get involved in another “boondoggle” at the airport.

The motion to table failed with Thurman Supervisor Susan Shepler, Bolton Supervisor Ronald Conover, Hague Supervisor Edna Frasier and Horicon Supervisor Sylvia Smith joining Strough, McDevitt and Geraghty in voting to table.

Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Doug Beaty pointed out that the Nexamp proposal was 12% higher than the company that submitted the second-highest proposal — even with the decreased rate.

Chester Supervisor Craig Leggett said he believes it was a good deal.

“We’re not getting what we hoped for in the beginning, but we are getting more than any other proposal,” he said.

Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Brad Magowan said the contract will have a sliding scale built in, so if Nexamp qualifies for new incentives, the county will receive additional revenue.

Magowan used a horse racing analogy, coinciding with the opening of the Saratoga Race Course season this week.

“Right now, we have a guaranteed purse. I’m afraid if we pull out, we won’t get to the gate,” he said.

The agreement passed, with only Strough and McDevitt voting in opposition. Thurman Supervisor Susan Shepler abstained and Glens Falls 5th Ward Supervisor Ben Driscoll had left the meeting by that point.

Michael Goot covers politics, crime and courts, Warren County, education and business. Reach him at 518-742-3320 or mgoot@poststar.com.

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