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Senator supports turbine incentive; Firm seeks tax break for planned factory

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is advocating a tax credit for a Washington, D.C.- based company that would revive an unnamed Buffalo-area plant to manufacture wind turbines.

The D'Arcinoff Group, which leases heavy machinery to the military and commercial clients, could receive a tax credit of more than $1 billion for a plan it says would bring as many as 2,000 jobs to Buffalo. The plan is expected to create 105,000 jobs in six states, 15,000 of them in upstate New York, for at least seven years.

Citing confidentiality agreements, a D'Arcinoff Group spokesman declined to confirm the local plant's role or which site might be selected. He also declined to divulge the tax credit's value, but confirmed it would be worth more than $1 billion.

"As we transition to clean energy," Gillibrand said in a release, "this is an opportunity to build wind turbine components right here in upstate New York. To rebuild and fuel the new economy, we must harness the power of our manufacturing tradition. We can help bring new economic activity to our communities by reviving these former industrial sites."

The precipitous decline in large-scale wind energy projects nationally raises questions about the project's viability. D'Arcinoff Group CEO Michael C. Darcy said that the first 25,000 wind turbines would be installed and operated by the company itself, which would sell the industrial-level energy the turbines generate, rather than the turbines themselves. "For the first 25,000, we'll be our own customer," he said.

"We have our own very large power purchase agreements. There is huge interest in clean energy and tremendous interest for domestic energy."

Gillibrand spokesperson Bethany Lesser noted that the fleeting, and thereby less certain, nature of federal wind energy incentives has driven interest in turbines downward. "Sen. Gillibrand wants to consider making those incentives permanent" to alleviate the anxiety of those who might otherwise invest.

Lesser said Gillibrand believes in the project because "worldwide, there is a need to look at more alternative energy. If you look at what's going on in the Middle East and its effect on the price of oil and (at) the effects of the nuclear disaster in Japan, we need to look at all alternative energy, including wind."

Darcy, acknowledging that many people fear turbines will be loud and obtrusive, said his company prefers unusually remote locations. "There will be very few instances where you'll see a complete plant. Each will be producing components for wind turbines. We have the technology to install turbines where literally no one will be around to care it's installed."

D'Arcinoff Group recently applied with the U.S. Department of Treasury for the investment tax credit, and now Gillibrand is lending her support. It is not clear when the company will know whether it has received approval.

D'Arcinoff Group is a global company that leases heavy machinery such as bulldozers to commercial clients and the military. It entered the energy business after finding its high-powered vessels too costly to power.

e-mail: vsherry@buffnews.com

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