By LOU ANTONELLI
Clarksville Times Managing Editor
CLARKSVILLE – Red River County Commissioners approved a 3,400 acre reinvestment zone in June that will be used by a Chicago-based energy company for a solar farm. The Delilah Solar Energy Center will take up the southwestern corner of the county and will increase the county’s tax base by “hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to County Judge L.D. Williamson.
The Invenergy corporation last year received permission from Lamar County for a reinvestment zone on 6,500 leased acres near Cunningham in southeastern Lamar County. They appropriately dubbed that project the Samson Solar Energy Center.
Judge Williamson said Invenergy has purchased 2,000 acres outright and is leasing the other 1,400 in Red River County. Under the reinvestment zone agreement, the county will abate property taxes on the new construction for ten years as an economic development incentive.
The resolution passed by commissioners at their June meeting states “the designation of the reinvestment zone would contribute to the retention of primary employment or would attract major investment in the reinvestment zone that would be of benefit to the property described… and would contribute to the development of the county.”
The 3,400 acre reinvestment zone to allow the project to move forward Commissioners approved two agreements, one for each section of land. Judge Williamson pointed out the reinvestment zone costs the county nothing and it will receive $187,500 in cash per year for each section for ten years, which could result in $375,000 a year if both parts are developed.
The 250 megawatt solar farm will be worth $400 million and be completed by 2023. Judge Williamson said the county will still receive money during the tax abatement period, but it will be cash in lieu of property taxes, a common method companies that benefit from tax incentives use to compensate whomever they received the abatement from.
Prior to the regular commissioners’ meeting, a formal public hearing was called for public input on designating the reinvestment zone, but there were no speakers. Invenergy, LLC develops, builds, owns and operates power generation and energy storage projects in North America and Europe.
Its portfolio includes wind, solar and natural gas-fueled power generation and energy storage facilities. It is one of the six largest owners of wind generation plants in the United States and is North America’s largest independent wind power generation company.
It has a number of wind generation facilities in West Texas, but the two solar farms in Lamar and Red River County will be the first in Texas. The company is building the facilities because of the closure of the coal-fired Monticello Power Plant near Mount Pleasant last year freed up electrical transmission capacity on a major line that feeds from Titus, Red River, Lamar and Fannin counties to the Dallas Metroplex.
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