BASTROP COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A local company wants to capitalize on sunshine in the Lone Star State, specifically in Bastrop County.
Austin-based Solar Proponent is asking for tax breaks from the Elgin Independent School District to develop a solar farm project called Dogwood Creek Solar.
Solar Proponent calls itself a “utility-scale solar developer,” focused on building projects in ERCOT, according to its Chapter 313 application filed with the Texas Comptroller’s office.
The application asks for tax breaks from Elgin ISD that would save the company between $170 million and $350 million over 10 years.
According to the application, Dogwood Creek Solar would be a solar energy generation and battery storage project.
Kay Rogers is part of group called Friends of the Land opposing the project.
“I was just dumbfounded,” she recalled when she learned about the project in May.
Her property would be surrounded on three sides by the project, and she said she received a call by someone asking if she’d like to lease her land for it.
Friends of the Land is worried clearing the dense trees on the land would worsen flooding and threaten wildlife.
“It will drastically change the ecology and the drainage of our area,” Rogers said.
They’re also worried about traffic on narrow country roads.
“We just think there couldn’t be a worse place in the county for somebody to propose putting a solar factory,” Rogers said.
She added they are not against solar energy, pointing out she has solar panels on a cabin on her land.
“We love solar energy, we just think you should generate it on your own building, or go somewhere where there’s not trees, because this is going to cut down a major wooded area in our county,” Rogers said.
Solar Proponent and Dogwood Creek Solar are also asking the Elgin ISD school board to waive the job requirement of 10 permanent jobs to one full-time permanent job.
“The qualifying position will be compensated at the rate of 110% of the regional manufacturing wage as well as offer company benefits,” the application stated.
They state although construction is expected to bring 200-300 jobs, once the facility is complete, it’ll need a low number of permanent workers, adding “the current industry standard for solar energy sites is 1 worker per 250 [megawatts].”
The solar farm in Bastrop County would generate 216 MW of solar energy, according to documents.
“One employee, and we don’t know if that employee will be a resident of the county or Elgin,” said Darlene McLaughlin, another member of Friends of the Land, during Monday’s Elgin ISD school board meeting.
The group wants the school board to deny the project’s Ch. 313 application.
If the school board doesn’t approve the Ch. 313 agreement, the company “is rather certain” it’ll move the project to another state “where either the property tax burden is lower or economic incentives can be secured,” according to the application.
On Monday night, school board members were set to consider whether to allow their attorneys and the superintendent to start negotiating an agreement with Dogwood Creek Solar and Solar Proponent.
They decided they needed more time to consider the information and voted to consider to move forward at their next meeting, instead, scheduled for next month.