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Valley attracting more wind farms  

Credit:  FERNANDO DEL VALLE, STAFF WRITER | The Monitor | October 15, 2014 | www.themonitor.com ~~

RAYMONDVILLE – A wind farm developer will launch a second construction phase that will build more than 100 wind turbines as part of a project that will create as many as 200 temporary jobs, officials said Wednesday.

E.ON Climate & Renewables plans to build about 116 turbines in an area along Farm-to-Market Road 186 between San Perlita and Raymondville, Willacy County Judge John F. Gonzales Jr. said.

Gonzales said the developer will build the wind turbines within the San Perlita and Raymondville school district boundaries.

The project is expected to create between 125 and 200 construction jobs during an eight-month period and eight to 15 permanent jobs, said Catalina Ozuna, executive director of the Raymondville Economic Development Corp.

San Perlita ISD will get much of the project’s tax revenue, taxing the turbines at 70 percent of their taxable value, said Agustin Lopez, chief appraiser of the Willacy Appraisal District.

Lopez said the Raymondville school district will tax the wind turbines at 30 percent of their taxable value.

Willacy County will generate about $210,000 in yearly tax revenue along with about $260,000 in annual payments in lieu of taxes during a 10-year period, Gonzales said.

He said county commissioners gave E.ON an 85-percent tax break as part of an agreement in which the developer will pay the county about $200,000 a year in payment in lieu of taxes.

As part of the agreement, E.ON will also pay the county $1,125 for each megawatt that the wind farm generates, or about $258,000 a year, Gonzales said.

So far, E.ON has built 112 wind turbines in an area that stretches from Lyford toward San Perlita as part of the first phase of its so-called Magic Valley Wind Farm. The county offered E.ON a 70-percent tax break to develop its first phase but did not negotiate an in-lieu-of-taxes agreement, said Gonzales, who did not hold office at the time.

In 2010, Duke Energy launched a project that built 151 wind turbines in a 20,000-acre area east of Sebastian. The county offered Duke an 85-percent tax break in exchange for annual payments in lieu of taxes of $260,000, Gonzales said.

In Lyford, the county’s two wind farms more than tripled the school district’s property tax collection in 2013, when the district generated about $10 million through its taxation of more than 200 turbines within its 356-square-mile boundaries, officials said.

Wind farms are springing up in other parts of the Rio Grande Valley.

In Starr County, Duke is building 247 wind turbines in an area off FM 490 near Pipeline Road, about 20 miles northeast of Rio Grande City. The company is storing turbine towers in an area between Wilson Road and Industrial Boulevard in Harlingen.

In Los Fresnos, Apex Clean Energy plans to build 80 wind turbines along FM 1847 between FM 510 and the Arroyo Colorado.

Source:  FERNANDO DEL VALLE, STAFF WRITER | The Monitor | October 15, 2014 | www.themonitor.com

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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