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updated 3:04 AM, Nov 27, 2020 America/Chicago

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Polk County approves land for solar plant

                               JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Bob Bass of the Allison, Bass & Magee, LLP law firm talks to Polk County commissioners Tuesday morning.

By Jason Chlapek

Polk County could be getting solar power in the next few years.

Commissioners approved a measure to establish a reinvestment zone for the purpose of tax abatement to provide economic development within the county Tuesday morning. The reinvestment zone consists of a total of 5,939.349 acres in the eastern portion of the county.

“Solar power will bring jobs and new industry.,” George Riggs of Long Road Energy said. “It builds the tax base and it’s more revenue for the landowners. The more projects you have like this, the more opportunities you have for storage of equipment, warehousing and repair facilities. It brings a whole new dynamic to the area. In addition to timber, you have a whole new industry.”

The county has been in talks with solar companies for nearly four years. The project is expected to break ground during the first quarter of 2021 and completion is projected for the fourth quarter of 2022.

“This process has taken about four years,” Riggs said. “Normally it takes about 3-4 years to get it approved. Once we break ground, it’ll take a year to a year and a half to complete. This is our first East Texas project. We chose Polk County because the close proximity to the transmission lines that service this area.”

Riggs is a former commissioner in Pecos County. Most of his company’s work is done in West Texas.

Bob Bass of the Allison, Bass and Magee, LLP represents the county through this agreement. He talked about the process to get these projects approved and ultimately finished.

“(Long Road Energy) came to us with the proposal,” Bass said. “These projects are built in a reinvestment zone. There’s several layers of this process. First, the developer goes out and leases ground from the landowner so they have a place to build. Next they go to the taxing entities to tie down their tax burdens. Then they have to essentially find a buyer for the power and go to a lender to borrow the money to fund the project. This is basically the second step toward that. We hope it will develop and I expect that this project will go on through.”

In other items, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office decided to stay with its current resident banking and commissary service, a community development block grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture in support of Dallardsville-Segno water improvements was approved, and a resolution adopting civil rights plans and procedures was approved. Commissioners court meets again at 9 a.m. Nov. 24.

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