A week after punting on some kind of tax relief for a proposed wind farm, Randall County commissioners agreed Monday to let Chermac Energy pay about half of what it would in property taxes over 10 years.
They voted unanimously to give the wind farm a 100 percent tax abatement in exchange for Chermac paying $3.4 million in place of taxes over those 10 years. The county has to send notification of the agreement to other taxing entities that cover the wind farm property for their information and then hold a final vote, said Assistant Criminal District Attorney Richard Gore, who advises the commissioners.
Chermac will pay $2,000 per year for each megawatt of the Happy Whiteface wind farm’s rated capacity of 156 megawatts.
The capacity is more than the actual production will be because it represents full production all day, every day. Production will likely be closer to 40 percent to 50 percent of the total capacity, according to industry estimates for the Texas Panhandle.
Chermac President Jamie McAlpine previously said he’s about $50 million short of financing the deal that could cost up to $210 million, making the tax abatement important.
“It’s not only financial, but public support that goes a long way when talking to equity people (about lending money),” he said Monday.
One challenge facing the Happy Whiteface wind farm is it’s 14 miles from the transmission lines built specifically to take electricity to large metropolitan areas downstate. McAlpine said that adds about $1 million per mile to construction costs, something not all projects face.
Randall County resident Beverly Dampf expressed concerns about foregoing tax money to boost growth in the county and the consequences of a decision to do so.
“How much growth do we want, and how quickly do we want it?” he said. “You don’t want to stand three rows back to look into Palo Duro Canyon.”
County Judge Ernie Houdashell said a challenge for Randall County is its lack of industry.
“About 72 percent of our tax base is houses,” he said. “The homeowner is bearing the brunt of everything.”
The wind farm is proposed for roughly 11,000 acres in southwest Randall County.
Canyon Independent School District and South Randall County Hospital District have not acted on abatement requests for the project.
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