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Public hearing to focus on Pickens wind farm  

A public hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday in the second-floor courtroom at Gray County Courthouse, 205 N. Russell, concerning a wind farm proposed by T. Boone Pickens which is planned to include northern Gray County.

The public hearing will be part of Gray County Commissioners’ meeting, which begins at 9 a.m. The hearing concerns identification and creation of a reinvestment zone for the proposed wind farm.

Comments from the public concerning the proposed wind farm reinvestment zone will be heard during the hearing. Commissioners will not respond to comments or speak on the issue during the hearing.

An order designating the reinvestment zone will be voted on by commissioners following the hearing. If the order passes, they will then consider a resolution creating guidelines and criteria for granting possible tax abatement in the zone.

A reinvestment zone, once called an enterprise zone, is an area in which businesses could apply for potential tax abatements if they establish a facility within the zone, according to County Judge Richard Peet.

Possible tax abatements which might be granted to businesses locating within a reinvestment zone can vary widely, Peet said. Abatements could range from 0 to 100 percent over a time span of up to 10 years.

A company receiving an abatement may be required to pay, for example, 85 percent of the value of the company property for the first five years. After the abatement agreement has expired, the company would pay regular property tax amounts annually.

Taxing entities which create reinvestment zones may or may not award such abatements, and may also require specific situations such as a minimum number of employees to be hired and maintained by the business.

Commissioners created a reinvestment zone in southern Gray County earlier this year and granted a tax abatement to CPV Wind Ventures for a wind farm in that section of the county.

CPV received a 90 percent tax abatement for the first four years of its operation in the county, followed by a 60 percent abatement for six years afterward. Beginning with the 11th year, 100 percent of the assessed property taxes will be due from the company. CPV sold to a company in Spain after the reinvestment zone was created and tax abatements established, and the abatements carried over to the new company.

Pickens, a Roberts County rancher and Dallas businessman, created Mesa Energy to build a 4,000-megawatt wind farm in northern Gray County and southern Roberts County. In addition to the wind farm, Mesa plans a 750-megawatt coal-fired plant to supply energy when the wind isn’t blowing and a 600-megawatt natural gas-fired plant to handle peak loads.

In addition to the generation facilities, Mesa plans a 320-mile transmission line to the Dallas area to tap the fast-growing urban markets of North Texas.

Pickens’ wind farm will involve the northern part of Gray County concerning placement of wind generators, and the entire county may be affected by placement of a transmission line to carry the generated electricity to his customers, Peet said at commissioners’ Oct. 15 meeting. The proposed wind farm will include about 1,400 generators, compared to 80 at the wind farm near White Deer, Peet said.

Also on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting are a possible usage fee for White Deer Land Museum, canvassing of the Nov. 6 election returns, the county jail physician contract, the medical officer contract, deeding a block of land in the Wilcox Addition to owners of land adjacent to it to resolve an issue of overlapping property, opening of requests for proposals for various county insurance coverage, payment of overtime hours in the county clerk’s office for the Nov. 6 election and the county treasurer’s report.

An executive session is also scheduled for Thursday concerning medical payment for a county employee.

By Marilyn Powers
Staff Writer

The Pampa News

14 November 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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