Hopkins County Commissioners Court Monday morning, Jan. 10, 2022, again approved a reinvestment zone for and also approved a 381 agreement for BT Solterra Solar, LLC.
Austin Willis, director of Solar and Storage for Belltown Power Texas, Monday morning explained that the reinvestment zone is exactly the same as the one approved by the court in November 2021 for BT Solterra Solar. However, due to an oversight on behalf of the local newspaper, notice for the reinvestment zone were never published as required.
“We believe it was just an oversight by the newspaper. We do not believe there was any malice. It was just overlooked and pushed out for something else,” County Judge Robert Newsom.
Thus, the notices that were supposed to go out before the November 2021 voted have been posted since the error was discovered and the court again held a public hearing, then the three court members present (Precint 3 Commissioner Wade Bartley and Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Price were both absent from the Jan. 10, 2022 court session) voted to establish the reinvestment zone as presented for BT Solerra.
During the public hearing conducted Jan. 10, 2022, prior to the vote approving the reinvestment zone for BT Solerra Solar to be constructed in the Saltillo area, Sulphur Springs-Hopkins County Economic Development Director Roger Feagley noted that the reinvestment zone simply established a geographic area for which the solar facility developer may request a tax incentive at some point in the future. This is particularly important as it is required for the BT Solerra to request a Chapter 312 agreement from Hopkins County Hospital District Board for a tax abatement for the solar project.
Hopkins County Resident Mac Pitts asked what the duration of the reinvestment zone will be. Feagley advised it would be for 5 years, but would be renewable for up to 10 years. The zone begins in January 2022 and would be valid through 2027, when it could be renewed for five additional years through 2032. The zone spans 1354 acres.
BT Solterra has asked for tax incentives from Saltillo ISD and Monday asked and received a 381 agreement from Hopkins County Commissioners Court. The company will be required to pay all taxes, for the approximately 1,354 acres across 15 different parcels leased from Los Senderos Cattle and Ranch Company and Delbert Chip Tully. Upon meeting terms of the agreement, BT Solterra Solar would receive a 100 percent reimbursement of taxes for tax years 2023-2033, or beginning the tax year in which on-site construction of the project has begun and at last 25% of the minimum investment of $100 million as of the appraisal date for that tax year.
According to the 381 agreement, the investment for the project will be a minimum of $100 million with a target of $140 million in improvements, new business personal property and equipment, but excluding inventory placed on the property. The project must be a complete construction by Dec. 31, 2023, and the developer is required to present to the court invoices, receipts or other documentation to the county for expenditures made toward the $100 million minimum investment, and a certificate of completion by Dec. 31, 2023.
The project will provide a minimum of one full-time employment position to be paid an average wage by Dec. 31, 2023, for which an annual compliance verification is to be provided for all 10 year years of the 381 agreement. The developer also must present an anual tax appraisal by the local appraisal distirct and pay the the taxes each year, then will be reimbursed for them, upon meeting all requirements.
The developer has agreed upon construction of at least 25% of the minimum investment in tax year 2023 or later to pay a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) payment each year through 2032 equal to $880 multiplied by the greater of the overall nameplate capacity located in the county and the 140 megawatt AC. The developer may also pay a one-time amount to be included in the tax year 2023 PILOT payment equal to the greater of $440 multiplied by the greater of the overall nameplate capacity (defined in the agreement at as the total or overall generating capacity of the improvements on the property in megawatts AC) located in the county and 140 megawatt AC for road repairs and maintenance.