Sulphur Springs Independent School District Board of Trustees Monday evening received an application from a group seeking a Chapter 313 agreement for Bright Arrow Solar LLC, a proposed solar farm which would be located in the northwestern part of SSISD.
As is procedure in such matters, the 6 school trustees present reported signed an acknowledgement declaring no conflict of interest in the solar project. Craig Roberts was absent from the meeting.
The school board then approved an agreement to retain attorneys and consultants to assist in the review and processing of the application submitted for an appraised value limitation on qualified property for Bright Arrow Solar LLC, in accordance with Chapter 313 of Texas Tax Code. Powell, Youngblood & Taylor has represented the district in legal matters related to all Chapter 313 agreements sought thus far from SSISD for solar farms.
PYT has assisted the district in drafting of all legal documents relating to the completion of an Agreement for Limitation on Appraised Value under Chapter 313 of the Texas Tax Code, including submission of all documents to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts as required. The firm utilizes expert consulting services of Region 12 Education Service Center for a school finance impact study. All fees for legal services and the impact study come from the $75,000 application fee the Chapter 313 applicant is required to pay.
The completed application is to be submitted to the Comptroller, once all portions are determined to be complete and correct. The Comptroller then would determined whether the project qualifies for a Chapter 313 tax agreement. Total investment for the project is cited at $275 million.
The request is for a 10-year limitation on taxable property value for maintenance and operations purposes, but would be fully taxable on the interest and sinking (debt service) portion of the tax rate, according to the proposal submitted to the SSISD school board Monday.
If the application is approved by Feb. 2021, the proposed project would be for a 300 MW/AC facility, with construction projected to begin in June 2021 and be completed by December 2022.
Bright Arrow Solar LLC, according to the proposal submitted to the school district, will be comprised of approximately 867,000 photovoltaic panels and 85 central inverters and is being developed by RWE Renewables Americas, LLC.
Up to 300 people could be employed during the construction process. The project is to be completed and begin commercial operations on Dec. 31, 2022. Once constructed, however, 2 qualifying full-time employees would be hired to maintain the solar farm. The district would be required to waive the 10 job minimum required for Chapter 313 agreements. The project would be valued at $25 million beginning in 2023 and would fully go back on the tax rolls in 2033.
Supplemental payments, which are not subject to recapture, may be made to the district in lieu of taxation. The statutory maximum would be $100 per average daily attendance per year. Depending on the net tax benefit, the district could potentially receive supplemental payments for up to 15 years. If the district has an ADA of 4,069.421, that could generate up to $406,942 a year, for a potential supplemental payment of up to $6,104,131 over a 15-year period, according to data provided.
The district only agreed Monday to accept and review the application for completeness, so that it can be submitted to Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Should the review period take more than 150 days, the superintendent is authorized to extend the review period. Once the Comptroller’s findings are returned. The district then will be asked consider approving the tax incentive for the project.
As has been the case with the Solemio solar project proposed in Arbala and Hopkins Energy solar project planned in Dike, KE Andrews will represent the project developers, listed in the application as RWE Renewables, a company with an Austin address.
The project developer also plans to ask Hopkins County Commissioners Court and Hopkins County Hospital District to consider granting tax abatements for 2023-2032, if the project is developed in Hopkins County.
If a Comptroller approved Chapter 313 agreement is not approved for Hopkins County, RWE Renewables would funnel funding planned for the project to another area, likely one of several states in which the business has previously successfully constructed solar projects.