Bel Air hospital plans to install large power generation system

A limited liability venture that plans to construct a natural gas-fired power generating system to serve Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air is seeking a tax reduction deal that all parties say is essential to the economic viability of the project.

The Harford County Council introduced a resolution Tuesday that would allow a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, agreement with CSFG-UCH Energy LLC, which intends to build a 2,000 kilowatt combined heat and power, tri-generation station on property owned by the hospital.

The system will produce electricity, steam and hot and chilled water that will allow the hospital to stay fully functional during power failures.

The agreement would allow the company to pay $4,300 annually starting July 1, 2014, until June 30, 2035, according to the resolution.

That $4,300 payment would be the equivalent of business personal property valued at $192,000 based on the Harford County tax rate of $2.24 per $100 of assessed value, according to a fiscal impact note attached to the resolution.

Both the fiscal impact note and the actual agreement the county would sign with CSFG-UCH LLC say the not-for-profit hospital would save money from the agreement, because the generating company would be a for-profit venture.

None of the documents spells out if there is an ownership arrangement between the limited liability company and Upper Chesapeake, which is affiliated with the University of Maryland Medical System. Nor do the documents say how much the system will cost to build and operate.

The agreement states that in exchange for the payment in lieu of taxes, the hospital would offer the county emergency services use of part of its facility "in the event of a significant power failure in the county."

The council does not comment on bills immediately after they are introduced. The date for a public hearing on the resolution was not available Thursday.

Economic loan

The council also introduced a resolution that would give an Economic Development Opportunity Fund loan to Altus LLC, to rebuild the commercial building at 1101 Main St. in Darlington.

The $100,000 loan would allow the engineering firm to perform extensive interior and exterior refurbishing before moving its business headquarters to the Darlington location.

Altus has 30 full-time employees and will add four to eight more after moving to Darlington, according to the bill.

The loan would be granted at an interest rate of 2.5 percent for 10 years.

Pension plan, Comcast agreement

Other bills introduced would change the Sheriff's Office pension plan to alter the credit for those who served in the military and allow up to five years of pre-employment military service to be considered instead of four years.

A bill would also change the county's cable franchise agreement from a period of 15 years to 10 years, as well as cutting any subsequent renewal periods from 15 to 10 years.

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