County looking at tax breaks for solar project

·2 min read

Aug. 21—Bringing a major solar power plant online is a major project and a developer is taking the steps to construct one on Luminant property near Eustace.

Ryan Camden, Director for Site Selection & Business Incentives for Ryan, LLC recently appeared at Henderson County Commissioners Court discussed site and development overview for Forest Grove Solar Project, located in Precinct 2.

The developer, Vistra wants more renewable energy sources and is laying the groundwork to construct 200mw plant west of Farm-to-Market Road 2329, northwest of Athens. The estimated cost of the plant is more than $200,000,000.

Camden said the company will probably submit a formal request for tax abatement in the next few weeks.

"They'd like to get the map finalized," Camden said. "They're working on design and engineering right now to try to get the best layout."

One form of tax abatement would be through creating a Reinvestment Zone.

County Judge Wade McKinney said county has created Reinvestment Zones in about five locations over the past six years. Champion Homes and Biomeric are examples.

"This is an opportunity the Legislature has given to assist in economic development," McKinney said "It requires that the county have some procedures in place and our procedures have expired." Reinvestment Zones can stay in effect for five years, but can be renewed. The county must renew its guidelines for Reinvestment Zones every two years,

Camden said if everything falls into place concerning the solar project, the earliest they could start construction would be about September of 2022.

"A project of this size is going to take about 12 to 15 months to construct," Camden said.

The solar plant is expected to operate for 25 years.

The Forest Grove property, owned by Luminant covers 12,000 acres. The land was originally scheduled to be used for a lignite plant that was never built. The solar plant would cover less than 2,000 of the acres.

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