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Potter officials mull property tax abatement for wind farm  

Credit:  By Yann Ranaivo, Amarillo Globe-News, amarillo.com 15 March 2012 ~~

Potter County officials are discussing granting property tax abatements for a portion of a wind farm project on the east side of the county.

Potter commissioners Monday had discussions about adopting the guidelines for establishing a reinvestment zone for High Majestic Wind II but put off a decision until March 26, said Dave Kemp, first assistant to the county attorney.

“For economic development projects, commissioners are allowed to enter into tax abatements with companies,” he said. “They bring jobs and income tax revenue to the county.”

Potter won’t begin negotiating the abatement level until after commissioners adopt the reinvestment zone guidelines, Kemp said. It usually takes about one or two weeks to negotiate abatements, he said. Counties can grant abatements for up to 10 years, he said.

High Majestic Wind II, which could cost $160 million to build, will include 51 turbines with a capacity rating of 79.6 megawatts. A megawatt of wind energy will provide power for about 350 average homes.

All but two of the turbines will be in Carson County, Project Manager Adam Rickel said. The wind farm will occupy 5,000 acres of agricultural land straddling Potter and Carson between Farm-to-Market roads 293 and 1342, he said.

NextEra Energy Resources, which owns High Majestic Wind II, leases the property the wind farm will be on, Rickel said.

“There will be about 150 construction jobs created,” Rickel said. “I am not sure where the employees will come from as we are still in the hiring process.”

The project also will bring on two permanent full-time jobs, Rickel said.

“I’m not sure of the exact roles of those two folks, but they will be on the operations and maintenance team at the site,” he said.

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

A reinvestment zone grants tax abatements to any new project done in that area, Kemp said. Projects looking to receive tax abatements in Potter are required to get 25 percent of their work force and equipment from the county, he said.

“But those requirements can be waived by the commissioners court,” he said, adding smaller projects don’t always have to meet the 25-percent rule. “For this particular project, it may not be big enough to worry about that.”

While the majority of the project’s new jobs will be temporary, Kemp said the guidelines do not require that any of the jobs be permanent.

Carson commissioners already have granted High Majestic Wind II a 10-year and 87-percent property tax abatement. County Judge Lewis Powers could not be reached for comment, but his assistant, Julie Smith, said it’s difficult to project the savings the abatement is expected to help High Majestic Wind II generate because of annual property tax rate changes.

Potter’s reinvestment zone will cover the property High Majestic Wind II leases but will expand in the future if other similar projects come to that area, Kemp said.

“This project is not a gigantic one, but it certainly opens the door for the future,” Kemp told commissioners Monday.

Commissioner Joe Kirkwood said he thinks the Texas Panhandle’s growing wind industry will help Potter get more wind projects in the future.

“We need to be assured we’re not closing the door to other wind farm entities,” he said.

“We have limited sites in Potter, and we have to use them to the best we can. Potter County will some day become the wind capital of the world.”

NextEra Energy Resources announced in a news release that it has signed a power purchasing agreement with AEP Southwestern Electric Power to sell the High Majestic Wind II electricity to the utility that serves customers in Arkansas, Louisiana and North and East Texas.

Source:  By Yann Ranaivo, Amarillo Globe-News, amarillo.com 15 March 2012

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

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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