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14Jun/17Off

Big solar projects potential boon for rural areas

By Ryan Maye Handy, Houston Chronicle Published 10:49 am, Tuesday, June 13, 2017


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OCI Solar Power is building the 110-megawatt, Alamo 6 solar farm in Iraan in West Texas to provide renewable power to the city of San Antonio. The project is slated to come online by the end of the year. OCI ... more

Utility-scale solar power is poised to become a boon for Texas' rural economies, particularly those hit by the oil downturn.

In Pecos County in West Texas, just south of Midland, the oil and gas industry accounted for about 90 percent of the county's tax revenues, said Helen Brauner, director of origination strategy for 7x Energy, an Austin-based utility-scale solar company. But that tax revenue plunged during the oil bust, she said, and has yet to recover.

But renewable energy is helping to restore some of Pecos' lost tax base, said Brauner. The county already hosts 400 megawatts of solar power and 700 megawatts of wind power.

"The typical 100 megawatt solar project should give the county about $30 million in property tax revenue per year," Brauner said  Tuesday at a summit on solar power in Austin.

Most of the solar power in Texas comes from utility-scale projects, which are greater than one megawatt, or enough to power 200 homes on a hot Texas day. Texas has lagged behind in the spread of solar energy, in part because the state offers no incentives for solar power. Nonetheless, solar industry analysts and executives expect utility-scale solar to grow in Texas.

http://www.chron.com/business/energy/article/Big-solar-projects-potential-boon-for-rural-areas-11216368.php

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