Possible solar energy projects on the horizon
By Becky Brewster
The Culberson County-Allamoore ISD Board of Trustees met in Regular Session on March 26. The first business item on the agenda was a presentation by Dale Cummings, a tax advisor to Intersect Power, regarding a possible Chapter 313 Value Limitation Agreement for two proposed solar energy projects in Culberson County about 50 miles north of Van Horn. According to the Texas Comptroller’s website, “An appraised value limitation is an agreement in which a taxpayer agrees to build or install property and create jobs in exchange for a 10-year limitation on the taxable property value for school district maintenance and operations tax (M&O) purposes.” The sites would be fully taxable for the Interest and Sinking (I&S) levy collected to pay the bonds for the new K-12 Campus.
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. The state would reserve all mineral rights on the land.
[*Note: University Lands (UL) manages the surface and mineral interests of 2.1 million acres of land across nineteen counties in West Texas for the benefit of the Permanent University Fund (PUF). The PUF is one of the largest university endowments in the United States and benefits more than twenty educational and health institutions across both The University of Texas System and Texas A&M University System. http://www.utlands.utsystem.edu/. This land is presently exempt from property taxes.]
Each project is purported to create 2 full-time permanent jobs and 400 full-time construction jobs at peak construction. If the projects go forward, the target commercial operation date is December 31, 2020. The County and the Hospital District are scheduled to hear similar presentations at their April meetings. Cummings stated that “investors are looking to see if projects are economically competitive” and that “tax incentives are the key to compete.”
The Trustees also received an update on the K-12 Campus construction project from HB Construction Project Manager Manuel Quinones. Residents can now see vertical construction with the structural steel erection for the school and the cinderblock walls going up for the main gym.
Principal Aaron Hannah reported that District enrollment stood at 390 with a 90.6% attendance rate. Hannah also updated the Board on the “STOPit” app that will be used to bring the District into compliance with “David’s Law,” which requires District’s to include cyberbullying in the anti-bullying policies. Action can be taken whether the incident occurs on or off campus, and parents can now be held accountable for the bullying actions of their minor children. The app will allow for the anonymous reporting of instances of bullying.
In other business, the CCAISD Board members:
- Approved Consent Agenda Items.
- Conducted a Closed Session for personnel and legal matters.
- Approved 2018-2019 District staff contracts as recommended.
- Approved Allotment and TEKS Certification for 2018-2019.
- Moved bad weather day from 5-18-18 to 4-2-18 to eliminate conflict with testing dates.