Wind energy projects are moving forward in several counties across the Big Country.
On Monday, Howard County commissioners signed tax abatement agreements with five wind energy companies, giving a green light to projects that could net the county more than $500,000 next year.
Brown County commissioners also created reinvestment zones in all incorporated areas of the county on Monday to pave the way for the Austin-based Renewable Energy Systems’ Roadrunner Windfarm energy project, which will locate about 125 turbines in Brown, Comanche and Mills counties.
Between 10 and 25 of the turbines will be located in Brown County.
Last month, Howard County commissioners tweaked and approved reinvestment zone agreements for five companies, a necessary step before abatement agreements could be signed.
The creation of the reinvestment zone allowed Howard County officials to issue tax abatements to each of the companies as an incentive to build 200 turbines.
Commissioners signed abatements on projects proposed by five companies – Iberdrola, Airtricity, Invenergy, Padoma and Duke.
The project overall could cost more than $600 million. All of the companies will pay normal county taxes until the projects are completed.
Once the energy projects are finished, each company will receive a 100 percent abatement for 10 years, after which they will be fully taxable.
“We are very excited about these projects,” said Howard County Commissioner Bill Crooker.
Iberdrola may not be able to start construction until late 2008 or early 2009.
Brown County commissioners could approve abatement agreements with RES as soon as Monday. The creation of the reinvestment zone opens opportunities for other wind energy companies and firms to locate in Brown County.
“We are still working out the details on the requested abatements,” said Commissioner Richard Gist.
Wes Jackson, the property tax consultant for the project, said the company is still in negotiation with Brown County on the terms of the abatements, which could be on Monday’s agenda for Brown County commissioners.
Comanche County commissioners were the first to give the green light to the Roadrunner Windfarm project by approving a reinvestment zone and a requested tax abatement in November.
RES will receive a 60 percent abatement over the next five years.
After five years, the abatement goes to 40 percent; after the next five years, the equipment will be fully taxable.
Mills County commissioners approved the creation of a reinvestment zone in November as well, but commissioners are still negotiating the terms of requested abatements for the company, Jackson said.
Representatives from the RES are in the process of obtaining leases on for the turbines, which are estimated to cost about $3 million each.
By Celinda Emison
12 December 2007
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