The Hopkins County Commissioners recently approved another 381 agreement for a solar project to be located in Precinct 4 with two major land owners involved. The contract provides a 100% tax abatement for the Bright Arrow Solar project for the first ten years of the contract as Hopkins County has chosen to take a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) in the amount of $360,000 annually for those same ten years. The solar company would then start paying 100% of the taxes owed on the depreciated value of the panels and equipment for the following years. The original investment in panels and other equipment for the 300 megawatt facility is estimated to be $275 million and will include a “battery array” for electricity storage as well which has driven the value of investment up from previous estimates. Bright Arrow Solar representative, Sean Pattee, told KSST News that local solar projects are having to re-evaluate their installations in the area as the wholesale prices for electricity that is being paid to solar providers has been going down recently due to supply and demand.
The largest solar farm in the country is under construction currently north of Hopkins County and covers portions of Lamar, Franklin, and Red River counties. The Samson Solar Energy Center will provide over 1,300 megawatts of electricty (enough to power 300,000 homes) and that electricity will be transferred directly to the grid. As more electricity is transferred to the grid from our area, theoretically the price paid will go down for additional providers to transfer their electricity to the grid.
The two major land owners that will be leasing their land to the solar company, BK Hill Real Estate LLC. and the Champagne family will be losing their “ag exemption” on their leased property and will now be responsible for taxes at the “non Ag” rate going forward as well as having to pay a rollback of the past three years at the higher tax rate per state mandate.
SSISD board of directors also approved their contract with Bright Arrow Solar, which involves a Chapter 313 agreement allowing the solar company to pay taxes on a reduced amount of taxable value of $25 million instead of the original value of $275 million. This contract will run for the first ten years of the project and then Bright Arrow Solar agrees to pay full taxes on the depreciated value of approximately $55 million taxable value. This latest solar project is located completly within the boundaries of the Sulphur Springs Independent School District and Hopkins County.