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Wind farm asks for tax cut

A wind farm with 100 turbines, taking up to 100 acres in southwestern Refugio County, may begin construction as soon as late 2018 if Refugio County grants an abatement up to 10 years.

Commissioners Tues-day morning listened to Rich Saunders of E.ON Climate and Renewables talk about the wind farm and its benefits.

Saunders said the wind farm would increase the county’s tax base up to $250 million to $270 million.

He said Woodsboro school district would see $2 million to $3 million the first couple of years before the state’s Robin Hood rule took place.

The farm’s construction would take about 12 months. E.ON looks to use a local workforce.

“During the one-year time period, there would be an influx of people and a boost to the economy,” Saunders said.

“We’re looking for people who want full-time jobs and want to stay in the county,” he said.

Those full-time jobs would be filled by technicians and mechanics.

He assured that his company looks at the environment aspect of their projects. And he said only one eagle’s nest was seen over the area.

The company also is working with the local grid – that is AEP and ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas).

He said E.ON has to show it would decrease costs.

Also, he said each turbine takes about three-quarters of an acre.

The site of the farm is known as Roach Ranch off U.S. Highway 77 southwest of Woodsboro.

Each turbine will produce 2.2 megawatts.

Saunders said his company is after a “market level” county abatement.

“It’s critical to (E.ON) economics,” he said.

Likely, the abatement would be up to 10 years allowable and up to 80 percent, but those figures are not set.

The farm would create 200 to 300 construction jobs during the year it was being constructed.

After that, 10 to 12 full-time jobs during the project’s 30-year life would be created.

Commissioner Ann Lopez asked what would happen after the 30 years of the project.

Saunders said a bond would be put up at the outset guaranteeing the removal of everything after the project is over in 30 years. The removal brings the site back to its original state.

Or, he said a new deal may be made at that time.

“I’m pretty excited about diversification,” said County Judge Bobby Blaschke.

“This is an opportunity to diversify our economy. I’m very excited to have the opportunity,” he said.

Blaschke noted that Refugio County has a lot of land available for such projects.

But he said some things would have to be done first.

He said the county’s reinvestment zone guidelines would have to be redone.

Also, a draft of the negotiations would have to be drawn up, and he said the county might have to go outside to get additional legal help.

“So we have work to do on the business side. I think it is a great opportunity for the county,” he said.

Saunders said he would like to see those points taken care of within the next four weeks.

“We will proceed,” Blaschke said.

In other business, commissioners approved a resolution authorizing the county judge to request the maximum $2.521 million FEMA Community Disaster Loan if needed for the emergency operations of the county.