February 13, 2012

Wind farm representatives seek Potter tax abatements

By Kevin Welch, Amarillo Globe-News, amarillo.com 13 February 2012

Despite travel complications that canceled a Monday meeting, Potter County commissioners will be talking soon with wind farm representatives to discuss taxes concerning a project that could cost $160 million to build.

The project, High Majestic Wind II, will include 51 turbines with a capacity rating of 79.6 megawatts. A megawatt of wind energy will power about 350 average homes.

Most of the turbines will be in Carson County.

“We also have two turbines in our array which lie in Potter County,” said Adam Rickel, the project’s manager. “I want to discuss the possibility of a county tax abatement agreement with Potter County for those two turbines, similar to what we have in place with Carson County.”

Carson County commissioners granted a property tax abatement of 87 percent.

“That’s the same as for Majestic I,” said Carson County Judge Lewis Powers. “It’s for 10 years.”

Majestic I, immediately adjacent to where the new wind farm will go up, started operations in 2009.

The Panhandle Independent School District has a slightly different incentive arrangement since school districts can’t abate taxes. Instead, it receives payments in place of taxes under state laws governing economic development.

“The first year (2009-10) they paid nothing,” said PISD Superintendent Blair Brown. “This year, they paid $437,994, or 2.5 percent of our operating budget. They also paid $464,472 of our debt service, or 21.5 percent.”

By the time both Majestic wind farms are in operation for the 2013-14 school year, the company will pay $700,000 of the district’s operating expenses and $594,000 of debt service, Brown said.

High Majestic Wind II plans to start construction in April and to be operational by September.

The wind company, owned by NextEra Energy Resources, recently announced it has signed a power purchasing agreement with AEP Southwestern Electric Power in which it will sell the High Majestic Wind II electricity to the utility that serves customers in Arkansas, Louisiana and North and East Texas.

AEP has purchased power from the first High Majestic in 2009.

The latest purchase agreement will allow AEP to put a new and controversial 600-megawatt coal plant into operation in southwest Arkansas. It owns 73 percent of the $1.7 billion plant.

With its latest purchase of Panhandle wind energy added to several other deals, AEP accumulated enough renewable energy to satisfy its settlement of legal challenges by Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society and Audubon Arkansas, according to information from AEP.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2012/02/13/wind-farm-representatives-seek-potter-tax-abatements/