More tax breaks approved for Bell County solar farms
BELTON, Texas (KWTX) - Renewable energy companies are pouncing on the opportunity to connect more resources to Texas’ energy grid.
Monday morning, Bell County Commissioners approved a tax break for a solar energy company promising hundreds of megawatts of electricity.
Those with Limewood Solar LLC, the company building the farm, said the rural area and access to the ERCOT grid makes parts of Bell County a good spot to build.
There is still a little anxiety from residents, however, and some are unhappy.
“People are very vocal,” said Bill Schumann, Bell County Precinct 3 commissioner.
In recent years, more residents have started to lease their land to companies to build the solar farms.
“If you look at a map of the transmission lines and the substations that Oncor and ERCOT have, they just happen to go through Precinct 3,” said Schumann.
Solar companies are also coming to commissioners asking for tax breaks they say would make them more competitive in the energy market.
So far this year, four have been granted by the commissioners.
“Its’s difficult to pick-and-choose and say, ‘yeah, we’ll give you one but we aren’t going to give the next guy one,’” said Schumann.
So it is anticipated more companies will continue to ask for the incentives, not just in Bell County, but wherever they are available.
“The main goal is here to diversify our energy portfolio and create energy security for ourselves,” said Vinay Gonela, an associated professor of management at Texas A&M University Central Texas.
Gonela has been researching renewable energy for more than a decade. He said the amount of available land to put these farms up will continue to be a draw-in for many companies.
“I feel the perception has changed especially with the events that are happening - think about the last great freeze,” said Gonela.
As of now, the solar farms planned for Bell County are still months, if no years away from operation. So plugging them into the ERCOT grid is still a while away.
But for people like Schumann, he is hearing from his rural residents who are still not comfortable.
“They like to look at the crops, they like to look at the wildlife, the wide-open spaces,” Schumann said. “And this is obviously something different.”
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