Solar farm proposed for NW Edna
*From the 3-18 JCHT
By John Meng Publisher/Editor
While solar farm projects have dominated news in Ganado recently, a proposal for a new solar farm has emerged for Edna. At the recent Commissioners’ Court meeting, Jackson County Commissioners heard an introductory presentation for a 1,300-acre solar farm proposed for northwest Edna, near the Victoria County line.
Kevin Wetzel of Pattern Development delivered a detailed presentation for the project, slated as Old Hickory Solar which would generate approximately 260 megawatts (enough to power 36,000 homes).
Location of the proposed site is about 15 miles northwest of Edna in Precinct 1 and would take up about 1,300 acres of private land – most through long-term leases and some purchases.
“The land is grazing land only. It’s not taking any ag production out of use,” claimed Wetzel, “and the nearest resident is about two miles away so there are no abutting neighbors.”
The Old Hickory Solar project would reportedly include about 600,000 solar panels with steel trackers that would allow the panels to rotate to face the sun throughout the day. Development would begin in late 2020 and construction would be completed in mid-2022.
The project would impact County Roads 127 and 129, however, Wetzel stated that Pattern Development would pay for upgrades to both roads.
According to Wetzel, the Old Hickory project would be a significant property tax payer and community benefactor.
Wetzel said the new solar farm would generate an estimated $40 million in local property tax payments over the 35-year life of the project, benefiting Jackson County, Edna ISD, Hospital District, Emergency Services District #3, Flood District and Texana Groundwater District.
Wetzel also noted that neighboring counties have 28 projects under development, most of which will receive tax abatements from the local communities.
He told the county commissioners, “If Old Hickory is not granted local abatements, it’s very unlikely that we can compete with the neighboring projects so it will not likely be built or contribute to the tax base.”
Pattern Development has 10-plus years experience developing renewable energy projects and has developed, financed, or placed into operation more than 4,000 MW.
Pattern Development is part of the Pattern Energy Group, which has headquarters in Houston. The company is reportedly a leading U.S.-based independent renewable energy company which develops, maintains, owns and operates solar and wind farms as well as energy storage facilities.