The Vernon Independent School District approved entering into a property tax appraised value limitation for another wind farm. The action was part of the July VISD board of trustees meeting held Monday night.
Charlie Smith, of Lincoln Clean Energy, said his company has just finished construction of the Lockett Wind Farm south of town.
“We’ve got some more development in Wilbarger County,” Smith told the trustees. “It will be along the southern border. We have secured the leasing of 20,000 acres on the Waggoner Ranch. It will be split between Harrold ISD and Vernon ISD.”
Smith said the project would be bigger than the recently completed project, located south and east of Vernon. He said it would be a 250 megawatt facility with a $250,000,000 investment.
“It will be just a little bigger than Lockett. There will be 15 more turbines. They will be slightly bigger turbines. The majority will be in Vernon ISD,” he said, explaining that 56 windmills will be in VISD and 34 in Harrold ISD.
He said that he expected 200 to 250 workers during construction with “sixish” full-time employees when completed.
“It will take a few years to get this off the ground,” Smith added, saying they expected construction in 2020 and to be operational in 2021.
Dr. Thomas Alvis, a consultant with Moak, Casey & Associates, who has worked with the board on two previous windmill projects said the agreement would be good for the school district.
Alvis said that based on current laws, the agreement would cause the district to lose $1.3 million in tax revenue. In exchange, the district would receive, as a payment in lieu of taxes, $185,000 per year for 16 years.
“That’s if it gets built before the legislature meets again. Who knows after that,” he added.
Alvis asked the board if any had a conflict of interest by owning land in the proposed area. He was told none, as it was all of the Waggoner Ranch.
“We can recommend it to the district. We’ve never had one that didn’t help the district,” Alvis said.
Trustee Mike Ruhl asked if this was the companies’ third wind farm in the district. Alvis said it was, adding “who knows what may be coming later.”
Trustee Chris Lehman made a motion to enter the agreement on the project, to be called the Western Trail Wind Farm and it was unanimously approved. Trustee Kevin Young made the motion to retain Moak & Casey as well as O’Hanlan, Demarth & Castillo as consultants for the project and that was unanimously approved.
The board recognized Nate Christian and Matt Mathews, of the Wilbarger Auditorium, for their assistance during special testing. The district’s internet went down during the last day of testing last month and the auditorium set up space and provided internet for the students from the Middle School to complete the testing.
The board held a closed session to discuss personnel. Upon returning to open session, they approved hiring Jamie Adkins as a science teacher at the High School on a motion from Lehman. Other personnel actions approved by the superintendent include the resignations of Robin Storey, 4th grade teacher math teacher at Shive; and George Perez, technology teacher at VMS; and reassignment of Krystal Shipley, moving to Central school secretary from receptionist.