Possible Solar Energy Projects on the Horizon
By Becky Brewster
Culberson County Commissioners met in Regular Session on April 9. The first business item on the agenda was a presentation by Christian Fiene of Intersect Power and Dale Cummings, a tax advisor to Intersect Power, regarding a possible Chapter 312 Tax Abatement Agreement for two proposed solar energy projects in Culberson County about 50 miles north of Van Horn. A similar presentation was made to the Culberson County—Allamoore ISD for a Chapter 313 Tax Limitation Agreement. As previously reported, the Aragorn Project would develop approximately 1,765 acres of land for up to 180 Megawatts (MW) generated by 50,000 solar panels. The Titan Project would develop approximately 2,500 acres of land for up to 260 MW. Options to lease the land (which is part of the University Land Trust) have already been executed.
Each project is expected to create 2 full-time permanent jobs and 400 full-time construction jobs during peak construction. If the projects go forward, the target commercial operation date is December 31, 2020. Cummings stated that “investors are looking to see if projects are economically competitive” and that “tax incentives are the key to compete.”
Ramon Carrasco of Kleinmann Consultants recommended that the Court approve a change to the design of the concession stand at the Veteran’s Memorial Park. The original design called for windows across the entire front of the building, but after concerns were voiced by the contractor, Lupe Alvarado, about the potential for vandalism, Carrasco proposed that the design be modified to replace the glass with metal rollup windows. The Court concurred. Alvarado reported that the project is 60-65% complete and should be finished before the summer softball season which is several months ahead of schedule.
Rita Carrasco, JP Precinct 1, reported on the “Texas Roundup” which was a joint effort with the software provider and DHS to collect outstanding tickets in the judicial system. During the period from October 2017 through March 2018, JP #1 collected over $436,000 compared to collections from the same period the prior fiscal year of approximately $231,000. Carrasco also reported that Noemi Tarango had completed the requirements to become a Certified Clerk, and praised Tarango’s “hard work and dedication.” Carrasco also reviewed new laws affecting Texas courts that went into effect on September 1, 2017. The County will need to take steps to implement procedures for judicial and courthouse security as well as to address persons with mental illness that enter the judicial system.
Angelica Torres, a concerned parent, came before the Court to discuss the Rainbow Express Depot Day Care Center. Acknowledging that the County had made improvements such as new playground equipment, Torres stated that she is concerned about the routine and preventative care of the facility and playground. Torres expressed appreciation of the staff at the Day Care Center stating that they were “excellent” but concluded that the County needed to prioritize a “safe and sanitary environment for our youngest, tiniest residents.” Judge Urias reported on recent maintenance at the facility and advised the Court to include major improvements as a capital project in the next budget process.
In other County business, the Court also:
- Heard the monthly Agrilife Extension office report from Extension Agent Amber Caroll.
- Approved appropriating funds for the Far West Texas Public Defender’s Office.
- Approved a finance contract for the purchase of vehicles for the courthouse.
- Approved an agreement for right-of-way funds.
- Approved a proposal from RTS to service the repeater sites for $2565.00
- Approved a tower lease agreement with Gomez Peak Towers LLC.
- Approved two tax sale proposals and denied one proposal as submitted by the Culberson County Appraisal District.
- Heard reports on various County Projects.
- Approved monthly reports.
- Approved monthly payroll and expenses for March and payment of current bills.