Nolan County residents and business owners voiced concern about issuing a tax abatement to FPL Energy for the Horse Hollow II Wind Project during a public hearing.
The Nolan County Commis-sioners’ Court held a public hearing during a recent meeting to allow residents and representatives of FPL Energy to meet and address any concerns.
The Horse Hollow II Wind Project will be a 447 megawatt facility. It plans to utilize between 130 and 160 GE Wind Energy 1.5 megawatt turbine generators, and between 75 and 90 Siemens-Bonus 2.3 mega-watt wind turbine generators. The estimated value of the Nolan County improvements is ap-proximately $500 million to $550 million. FPL Energy asked the commissioners’ court for a 60 percent tax abatement in the first five years and 40 percent during the second five years.
Lestella Morris voiced her doubt that FPL Energy would stand by their claim to hire Nolan County residents and businesses. Morris told commissioners’ that FPL had been in contact with her a few times and then she never heard from them again, and they did not return any of her phone calls.
“They are not making an effort to use local people now and they won’t once they receive the tax abatement,” Morris said.
Morris expressed to commissioners that she did not agree with giving a company a tax break. “Give the people of the county a tax break,” Morris said.
Bob Bergstrom Jr., executive director for FPL Energy, explained that their preference is to hire locally as much as they can.
“We will hire locally as long as they are cost competitive and are qualified to perform the job,” Bergstrom said.
D.H. Blattner, the contractor for FPL Energy, also assured the commissioners and residents that the base materials for construction will come from Nolan County.
Other residents were concerned about FPL coming through their land when the landowner has no turbines.
“We don’t have imminent domain, so if you say no, then we don’t come through,” Bergstrom said.
Bergstrom said that the Horse Hollow II Wind Project will bring 13 to 15 permanent jobs and numerous construction jobs to Nolan County. The restaurants, hotels and businesses of Nolan County will benefit from the construction of Horse Hollow II, as well.
Following the public hearing, the commissioners approved the creation of a Nolan County reinvestment zone and a tax abatement agreement.