WATERLOO — As it prepares to submit comments at a Feb. 16 hearing on the proposed Trelina Solar Energy Center, the Packwood Serven Pre-Emption Neighborhood Association is upset it was denied intervenor funds by the state Board of Electric Generation Siting and the Environment.
“We are dismayed that our association, an association of homeowners who are concerned about the impacts that this solar farm will have on our community, was denied in total any of the set-aside intervenor funds,” Association spokesman and Packwood Road resident Joe Wukitsch said. “Our association researched how one should apply for those funds and what those funds may be used for.”
The neighborhood group sought $40,000 in funding to hire experts and consultants to review the impacts of the 80 megawatt solar project in the area of Packwood and Serven roads. By law, those funds would have been provided by Trelina.
The siting board denied the Association’s request Jan. 27, explaining that it is not an official party to the proceedings, and if it were, its planned use of the money wasn’t considered proper or allowable.
The board granted the town of Waterloo’s request for $80,000 in intervenor funds, noting the town is a party to the application process.
Wukitsch said calls to various state offices and internet research revealed no guidelines or direction relative to what would constitute a positive positioning for an award.
“We also reached out to an attorney who specializes in these matters,” Wukitsch said. “In a conference with two of our association’s officers, we were informed that we would have to use our own financial resources first to retain him, and that was just for his advice on how and the wherefores of moving forward.”
Waterloo Town Attorney Dennis Benjamin was contacted, but Wukitsch said he cited a conflict of interest because the town also was seeking intervenor funds.
“We question how the state can provide state taxpayer subsidies to a company not headquartered in New York [Trelina is based in Juno Beach, Fla.], who has failed to provide any financial information, and whose representatives have strongly stated would not be discussed until after the Article 10 process is completed relative to host benefits or PILOT agreement,” Wukitsch said.
Wukitsch stated Trelina’s assets exceed $125 billion.
“How can a small entity such as the town of Waterloo or our homeowners association have any progress toward any funding to provide a baseline to work from or position themselves to ensure transparency and accountability?” he asked. “It appears that, at every turn, the outcome has been determined at a higher state level.”