Sulphur Springs Independent School District Monday night declined the amended agreements for one solar farm but approved those for another.
SSISD school board on Dec. 10, 2018, approved an agreement for Solemio, after the Comptroller’s Officer reported it met the Chapter 313 agreement requirements, provided total employment requirement is waived. The project was to be for a 100 MW solar electric generating facility to be constructed on four properties in the Arbala area which would provide full-time jobs with competitive salaries. It was to have a 100 megawatt capacity, feature 277,812 photovoltaic panels and 32 central inverters. The project was formerly an Alpin Sun project, but shortly thereafter was picked up by Pattern Development.
Pattern Development officials in January 2019 said the project is actually a $65 million project due to limited topographical issues. The Pattern representatives at that time said they were looking for more land to add to the solar farm project. They have since presented amended reinvestment zone and agreements with adjustment made to incorporate the adjustments.
The school board was scheduled to vote on documents regarding the solar farms at a special Dec. 19 meeting. However, following concerns voiced by several community members during public forum, and a nearly 30 minute executive session, the trustees voted to table the action items until further discussion and consideration.
SSISD Superintendent Michael Lamb told trustees Monday night that he met Dec. 23 with four of the community members who voiced concerns during the Dec. 19 meeting regarding the proposed solar farms, especially Solemio LLC in Arbala.
“We had great dialog. We visited back and forth on why its a benefit to us, what they don’t care, don’t like about it. We just ended up having really good dialog, coming to some places of agreement, and I think as represented by nobody here to be upset about it tonight is a sign that what they told me was true,” Lamb said.
Monday night, the items regarding the solar farms were again on the agenda for trustees’ consideration. At that time, Lamb noted that the time limit on the Solemio application for an amended reinvestment zone and agreement for limited property tax value had expired.
“I’m going to recommend for C, D and E, that’s the Solemio project, we ran out of time. We couldn’t say yes to that if we wanted to, so we either just have no action or actually make a recommendation to vote no. Just for easiness, my recommendation is that you make a recommendation as a group C, D and E, you vote no on those,” Lamb told the trustees.
The trustees, on a motion by Board Vice President Robert Cody and seconded by John Prickette, unanimously declined the resolution designating a new reinvestment zone for the Solemio project.
Cody made the motion, seconded by Leesa Toliver to decline amended findings of fact in connection with the application to amend the agreement for the Solemio project. It also received unanimous approval from the school board.
Cody then made the motion, seconded by Kerry Wright, declining the requested amendment to the agreement for a limitation on appraised value of property for school district maintenance and operations taxes for the Solemio project.
That leaves in place the original Solemio LLC project agreement approved by SSISD Board of Trustees on Dec. 10, 2018, after the Comptroller’s Officer reported it met the Chapter 313 agreement requirements, provided total employment requirement is waived. It will be up to the developer whether to continue the project without incentives for additional property added to the proposal.
The trustees then were asked Monday night, Jan. 13, to considered for Hopkins Energy LLC a proposed reinvestment zone, findings of fact in connection with and an application for a limitation on appraised property value for school district maintenance and operations taxes reviewed by the Comptroller’s Office, and an agreement under Texas Economic Development Act for limited appraised value for SSISD M&O taxes.
Lamb recommended approving those agreements for the solar farm proposed for the Dike area, 60 percent of which would be located within the boundaries of Sulphur Bluff ISD and the remaining 40 percent would be within the boundaries of SSISD.
“I think everybody agrees those are beneficial for us and we want to go in that direction,” Lamb said.
Trustee Jason Dietze made the motion, which Craig Roberts seconded, to adopt Resolution 2-20 designating Hopkins Energy LLC Reinvestment Zone #2. The motion received unanimous approval.
Dietze also made the motion, seconded by Cody, to accept the Findings of Fact in connection with Hopkins Energy LLC’s application to the comptroller for limitation on appraised value of property for the school district M&O taxes. The motion receive unanimous approval of the board.
Dietze and Cody too made the motion to grant an agreement with Hopkins Energy LLC for a limitation on appraised value of property for SSISD M&O taxes.