After a lengthy discussion Friday with Robert Peña, a representative from Cielo Wind Services, the Gray County Court of Commissioners approved a resolution to create a reinvestment zone in Gray County.
Local governments set up reinvestment zones as a way to encourage development of business through tax abatements. A resolution is adopted at an open meeting, and then the governing body, in this case the Commissioners Court, will determine guidelines and criteria that must be met before a business or industry can receive a tax abatement, which is a temporary reduction or elimination of taxes.
Cielo is based in Austin and recently provided a $75,000 grant to Clarendon College for its program to train and certify wind turbine technicians.
The commissioners approved on Friday the creation of the zone, called the Salt Fork Reinvestment Zone, but did not establish criteria for the zone.
Further, the commissioners at this time did not offer Cielo a tax abatement if the company builds a wind farm in Gray County.
A topographical map of the zone shows it beginning with a two one-square mile sectors along the Gray and Donley county line and then extending north and then east in one-mile sectors.
Some of the commissioners, Jeff Haley in particular, expressed concern that Cielo was requesting the reinvestment zone and the subsequent tax abatement while providing little information to the county on how many wind towers it plans to build.
Peña agreed to bring more details to the Commissioners at the Nov. 15 meeting.
Haley asked Peña why other industries, such as oil and gas, don’t need tax abatements to do business in the county.
Peña answered that by state law some industries can receive tax abatements while others can’t. He said wind energy producers such as Cielo are eligible because of state legislation to promote the growth of renewable energy.
Judge Richard Peet, who oversees the court, stressed that the criteria for the reinvestment zone be written to fairly treat all industries who might come to the Commissioners to request a tax abatement.
During the public comment before that preceded the Commissioners’ discussion with Peña, a citizen who works in the local oil and gas industry said it would create an uneven playing field for the county to give a tax break to a wind energy company, while oil and gas producers, ranchers and farmers and required to pay their share of property taxes.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding