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County to discuss Peyton Wind Farms, Lodestar

Matagorda County Commissioners are expected to authorize County Judge Nate McDonald to sign a letter to Peyton Creek Wind Farm regarding county permits.

E.On’s Peyton Creek wind farm is will under construction in Matagorda County with the project expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Richard Saunders of E.On said the project would guarantee 10 jobs with an investment on the bankroll being at $170-180 million.

“Peyton Creek will be our 24th wind project in North America and construction, along with our long-term operation of this project, will deliver clean, low-cost energy to South Texas and generate millions of dollars in tax revenue and land lease payments,” said Silvia Ortin, Chief Operating Officer North America. “We appreciate the support of the local community and are excited to significantly diversify the tax base and employment opportunities in the area.”

The project, located in the ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) south market, is powered by 48 3.15 MW turbines supplied by the Nordex Group and will generate enough electricity to power more than 45,000 homes. With the addition of Peyton Creek, E.ON will have a total capacity of more than 4,000 MW online in the U.S.

Commissioners are also expected to approve and set a public hearing for Dec. 23 to discuss entering a tax abatement with Lodestar Energy Group.

According to Consultant Steven Manchester, Lodestar Energy is looking to place a $32 million dollar investment into a site in Matagorda County that would employ 10 full-time workers.

Lodestar Energy Group announced that a 227-acre site in El Maton had been chosen as a finalist location to build the South Texas Rail Terminal.

A decision from Matagorda County Commissioners granting tax abatement will be a critical factor in the company’s final site selection. Lodestar is seeking abatement over five years – 85-percent in the first two years; and 75-, 50- and 25-percent, respectively, over the last three years.

“Our 227-acre terminal will be handling energy-related products resulting from the Texas Gulf Coast’s oil and gas exploration as well as its midstream and downstream manufacturing activities,” according to a letter to Commissioners from Lodestar’s President and CEO Brad Howell. “Initially, Lodestar’s South Texas Terminal will be focused on handling inbound and outbound rail traffic resulting from separate fractionation and storage facilities being considered in and around Matagorda County.”

The South Texas Rail Terminal will be a $32 million investment creating about 10 full time jobs. Positions employed at the facility will include field operators for loading, tank car movement and ancillary tasks earning about $60,000 annually; shift supervisors earning about $100,000; and a manager earning about $150,000.

The company hopes to break ground on the rail terminal in the first half of 2020 and become fully operational by the second quarter of 2021.

Commissioners are also expected to accept the Feral Hog Grant funded to Matagorda County for the 2019-20 in the amount of $20,000.

The county applies for the grant annually to help combat the feral hog issues within the county.

Dr. Aaron Sumrall said the grant would be used to improve the water quality in the area by reducing the feral hog population in the area.

“Our goal is to apply the grant to get more trapper equipment that we need in this county,” Sumrall said. “We also need to educate this population about feral hogs and make sure that everyone learns the right way in trapping feral hogs.”

Sumrall said the problems incurred by this exotic invader is not the problem of just farmers and ranchers but everyone. Research has proven that the scope and level of loss is unending. In addition to agricultural losses, loss of egg clutches of ground nesting birds, like turkey and quail, can be in the area of 80 percent.

Sumrall pointed out auto accidents/claims are increasing as well.

“Much of the beauty of Matagorda County can be found in the marshes and wetlands in the form of the multitude of migrating and resident bird populations and other wildlife,” Sumrall said. “Necessary habitat in Matagorda County for many of these species is being lost or severely impacted solely by wild pigs.”

Sumrall pointed out that every hog litter, 50 percent are females.

“If three of the six in the litter are females, then those three females have litters within a year, you can see how the numbers are multiplying,” Sumrall said. “We need to focus on the trapping aspect of this problem because it is a never-ending deal.”

Sumrall pointed out that a farmer in the Waco area had feral hogs destroy 48 acres of his corn fields in one night and that kind of destruction is on the rise locally as well.

“I know that the local cattle producers want the feral hogs gone,” Sumrall said. “The biggest predator for a young calves is the feral hog.”