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Wilbarger County gives tax abatement for solar farm

The Wilbarger County Commissioners Court entered into an agreement on Friday, Sept. 4, to give  a full tax abatement for 10 years to Savion LLC, on the proposed Adams Creek Solar Farm in northeast Wilbarger County. The estimated cost of the Solar Farm is $225,000,000.

Savion representatives had met with the commissioners in July in closed session to discuss detail of the project. On Friday, Mike Fry, of consulting firm K.E. Andrews, proposed a 100 percent abatement of taxes over 10 years. In exchange the company will give the county a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) valued at $972 per megawatt produced. Fry said that would equate to about $2.4 million over 10 years — or $243,000 per year for 10 years. In addition, the company is going to give the county $200,000 to assist the Vernon Fire Department.

The value of a PILOT for the county is that the facility does not go on the tax roll, which would force the county to lower the tax rate due to state rules on the amount of tax money that can be increased year-over-year.

However, rejecting the PILOT would substantially lower everyone’s tax rate in the county.

The benefit of a PILOT for the company is that they pay much less than if they had to pay taxes on the facility.

The commissioners asked if the project was coming with or without the tax abatement. Eric Clifft, project manager of Savion LLC said it would be unlikely.

“The latest I have heard its going to be really hard to pull off with taxes not being lowered,” Clifft said.

Commissioner John Wright said the annual tax in the first year would be around $1.215 million without the abatement. The facility would depreciate about 6 to 8 percent per year. When it returns to the tax roll in 10 years, the project’s tax value will be no lower than 20 percent of its original value — and it will remain at 20 percent value for 20 more years.

The tax abatement was unanimously approved on a motion from Commissioner Wright and a second from Commissioner Josh Patterson.

The company has 3,300 acres leased,, but will encompass approximately 2,618 acres, and be located in the northeastern portion of the county, on both sides of FM 370.

Construction may start at the end of 2021 and the plant be operational by the end of 2022. It is planned as a 250 MW solar electric generating facility, and when established will provide 2 full-time jobs. It will have 796,000 photovoltaic panels, and 67 central inverters.

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