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Wind farms have been popping up throughout South Texas, such as this one, and come with a hefty price tag in the hundreds of millions in investments.

With wind farms sprouting up all over San Patricio County, tax abatements have been a hot commodity for companies looking to expand.

But the abatements are not without their issues.

SPC Appraisal District Vice Chairman Bill T. Wilson II recently spoke to county commissioners on wind farms tax abatements, noting that RWE Renewables America was suing Taft ISD in order to lower its tax appraisal after its 10-year tax abatement had expired.

“If they come in and want to cut their valuation by $100 million dollars, that’s about a million dollars a year that the school is going to lose,” Wilson told commissioners.

The new El Algodon Alto Wind Farm LLC wind farm, owned by RWE Renewables America, covers the Mathis, Sinton and Odem-Edroy school districts and they will eventually benefit from the taxes the farms will have to pay.

“I think it’s really important to remember that as a corporate citizen, we’re just exercising our right to question what we see on these recent valuations with no disrespect to the appraisal district,” RWE Renewables America spokesman Michael Sivore said at the Nov. 30 commissioners court hearing.

Sivore added that the recent valuation places the two wind farms in Taft at nearly $200 million more than a third party valuation.

“So, again, this is an exercise in our rights to be able to question evaluations,” Sivore added. “We’ve made the appraisal district fully aware that we have every intent on trying to mediate this. The last thing we want to do is go to court.”

He also said that out of the 25 wind farm projects RWE has built, this is the first time they have filed a lawsuit.

Sivore said that RWE has delivered the third party’s findings to the appraisal district but has yet to hear back.

“I feel like we’ve been reasonable and tried to mediate this,” he said. “I would like to reassure the courts we have every intention of moving forward in that direction, but it takes two to tango and I think we can all agree with that.”

Commissioners unanimously approved the tax abatement agreement.

Commissioners already approved a Road Use and Master Road Repair agreement during a previous court hearing that would bring in $5 million to $7 million for road work and repairs near Mathis.

RWE states that the agreement is for the “ ... repair of county roads, cross culverts and bridges for the duration of the term of this Agreement in consideration of Company’s use of said County Roads and bridges for the purpose of the activities described the Tax Abatement granted to (El Algodon Alto Wind Farm LLC).

“From the RWE perspective, I think it’s important for us to remember a couple of things,” Sivore said at a previous hearing. “The benefit is not just to our company itself; it extends down into the community. Our goal and hope is that as a partner the money that we’re paying out to the landowners has a constant trickle down effect over 30 years.

“Of course, the largest benefit to you all will be the significant infrastructure upgrade and roads between $5 million to $7 million, and a part of the county where I think that we can agree needs some improvements.”

•pgonzales@mysoutex.com•

 

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