Deal nearly sealed for $9 million Central Texas solar farm project

(Photo by John Carroll)
(Photo by John Carroll)(KWTX)
Published: Feb. 5, 2016 at 5:20 PM CST
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Falls County officials are on the verge of finalizing a deal for an $8 million to $9 million solar farm project that will mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenues and dozens of construction jobs.

County commissioners have approved a six-year tax abatement for the solar farm, construction of which is tentatively set to begin this spring.

The developer, Cypress Creek Renewables has arranged the purchase of 55 acres south of Marlin between State Highway 6 and Business 6, which was contingent on approval of the abatements.

"To the best of my knowledge starting in April to May they're going to start building the plants which will employ 88 people now, not all from the county but there will be job opportunities there,” County Judge Jay Elliot said Friday.

Most of those jobs will be related to construction of the solar farm, which can be operated by a single person, but the project does mean additional tax revenue for both the county and the Marlin Independent School District.

As soon as the land purchase is finalized, the new company, Marlin Solar LLC, will make full payment of five years’ worth of taxes to the county, the school district and the county’s emergency services district.

After the farm is up and running, the county will receive 10 percent of the tax on the property for the first six year of operations because of the abatement, but the Marlin school district will immediately begin to reap 100 percent of property tax.

The land had been listed as agricultural and generated no tax revenue, Elliot said.

"And so what we're doing now is being able to turn this land into property value with being taxable there's your moneymaker absolutely,” Elliott said.

The company will sell power to Oncor, but Elliott said the agreement also allows the firm to make a deal with the school district and other local entities "to purchase the energy directly from the plant and cut their electricity costs possibly in half."

That adds up to thousands more dollars in savings, he said.

Elliott said discussions are already underway about two to three more similar plants coming in soon after this plant is complete.

“Our cheap land prices and abatement offer is what is attracting these new plants,” he said.