Palo Pinto County could get solar farm

·3 min read

Aug. 13—PALO PINTO — A solar farm could be coming to Palo Pinto County if precinct commissioners offer a tax abatement plan a Metroplex power company can plug into.

"The goal is to start construction in the spring and summer of next year," Belltown Power representative Austin Willis told commissioners during their Monday session.

Willis said the company is contemplating two versions of its solar farm, at either a $50 million or $100 million investment.

Willis said the project could create several hundred jobs during roughly a year-long construction phase. Operations will create "a few permanent positions," he added.

He said the company has a 30-year lease on a tract approaching 700 acres southwest of Graford, off Farm-to-Market 4 and Texas 337. It is not in the city limits. The lease has two, five-year optional extensions, Willis said.

Not much about the project was discussed Monday, with talks centering on what kind of tax abatement the county can offer.

"I don't mind having another meeting to discuss this," Precinct 4 Commissioner Jeff Fryer said at the end of discussions.

"If we got something by the end of the year, that would be great," Willis told the court.

A solar farm is a very large array of collectors facing skyward. Willis later told the Weatherford Democrat the company intends to sell power generated at the Precinct 2 facility through the statewide power grid.

Belltown has applied for a 100-megawatt permit, and Willis said studies are underway on how the array will interface with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the grid operator.

Typically, a single megawatt can power between 250 and 500 homes.

In other action Monday, commissioners:

—Left the countywide burn ban in effect;

—Bought 40 HP EliteDesk computers and a dozen Thin Client server connections, for $62,941. The bid by Computer Transition Services Inc., which is the county's information technology consultant, was the high bid of two but included a warranty on each component unlike the bid by Southern Computer Warehouse.

The Lubbock-based CTSI also posed much lower travel costs for warranty work than the Georgia-based SCW. Precinct 4 Commissioner Jeff Fryer said he wanted to avoid paying for four days of travel and hotel rooms for technicians from Georgia.

The computers will replace 6- to 12-year-old units.

—Approved a memorandum of understanding with Palo Pinto Independent School District for the courthouse to be a shelter during weather and other emergencies.

The agreement specifies the school district will remain responsible for its roughly 110 students and 40-member staff when sheltering in the courthouse about four blocks east of the Mustangs campus.

—Presented the 2021 Distinguished Service Award to the Palo Pinto County Historical Commission. The statutorily created preservation panel was among 82 out of 254 counties to earn the Texas Historical Commission recognition.

"We certainly do appreciate everything you all do," Long told longtime commission member Mike Lewis to applause in the gallery;

—Designated September as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. North Texas Prostate Cancer Coalition member Wolfram Blottner urged men to get screened for the cancer, the second-leading cause of death in American men with 34,500 fatal cases and 17,850 newly reported cases so far in 2022.