Desert Sky abatement tabled

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During their regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 11, the County Commissioners’ Court discussed entering into a tax abatement agreement with Desert Sky Wind Farm, LP. The court also called a special session on Tuesday, Sept. 19 to discuss the abatement further.

Desert Sky discussed a need for repowering and replacing some of the wind turbines utilized by the project. They projected that this would make the project cost $176 million to $192 million. $26 million of this estimate was the existing infrastructure, which would not be eligible for an abatement. In total, only $176 million were eligible for the tax abatement Desert Sky was proposing. The repower would include 21 new turbines.

Desert Sky drew up an agreement at that time for an 80 percent abatement. Judge Joe Shuster expressed some concern with the high percentage and asked to see other agreements for reference, including some with lower percentages.

The court unanimously voted to table the item for a later date.

That date came on Tuesday, where Desert Sky and the court met to once again discuss the agreement. Desert Sky’s representative brought along a new pilot agreement, as well as another 80 percent abatement agreement.

According to the representative, Desert Sky felt the project was worth at least an 80 percent abatement, and that they did not feel they could lower the percentage at all. However, they also drafted a pilot agreement in which the county would gain $1,000 per megawatt.

The abatements assumed an 8 percent depreciation, but it was stated that the actual depreciation could be up to 10 percent. Former EDC Director Doug May was in attendance at this meeting, and stated the county would benefit from the pilot agreement if the depreciation was, indeed, higher than 8 percent.

At the end of the discussion, the court was still uncomfortable with the numbers presented, including tax appraisals from prior years and the varying depreciation amount. It was unanimously decided that there would be no action taken on the item. The agreement is set to be discussed again at their next regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 25. 

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