Commission approves interlocal agreement for solar farm project

Diagram of proposed solar farm project. Image from July 9, 2014, draft of Enterprise Solar Community Development Project Area Plan| St. George News

IRON COUNTY — The Iron County Commission convened Monday at the Iron County Courthouse where they approved an interlocal agreement for a solar farm project plan with the renewable energy company Enterprise Solar.

The Iron County Community Development and Renewal Agency, made up of the Iron County Commission members, determined the solar farm project will create jobs, attract private capital investment, contribute to the tax base and contribute to the economic vitality of Iron County.

Brennan Wood, president of the Southwest Applied Technology College (Ed. note) and former economic development director, spoke about the solar project and presented the interlocal agreement for the Enterprise Solar Community Development Project Area Plan to the Commission members.

See the July 9 draft of the plan here: Enterprise Solar Community Development Project Area Plan – 20140709 DRAFT

Since the plan does not require the use of water, has very little impact on roadways and does not have much demand on community resources, Commissioner Dan Miller said, it is a welcome addition, especially because it would increase the county’s revenue.

“It has very minimal demand on any of our resources we have in the community,” Miller said, “but it brings a lot to the table.”

The Renewal Agency intends to secure a tax incentive of 70-percent for 15 years with a 20-year project life; this means Enterprise Solar would receive a tax reduction as an incentive for putting the infrastructure in place for the first 15 years.

Benefits from taxes will happen as the property tax on the project area increases as development moves forward. Currently, according to the Iron County Assessor’s Office, the property value of the project area is $132,621.  According to the Enterprise Project Plan, July 9 draft, the Renewal Agency predicts that tax increment will be generated from the project, with possible stated variations, as follows:

  • Projected 15-year total tax increment is $14,488,488
  • Projected 15-year incentive at 70 percent is $10,141,942
  • Projected 15-year increase in revenue to the taxing entities is $4,346,546
  • Projected total increase in revenue to the taxing entities over the 20-year life of the project is $5,458,958.40, divided among the taxing entities as follows:

o   Iron County – $942,219

o   Iron County School District – $3,245,376

o   Iron County Unincorporated Service District No. 2 – $1,271,362

The 1,296-acre project area is located within Iron County, according to the July 9 draft of the Plan, 32.6 miles from Interstate 15, southwest of Newcastle.

Brian Harris, representative of First Wind — parent company of Enterprise Solar said the expected completion date of a solar substation for the project is June 2016. The full solar project will be operational the following month.

Approval of the interlocal agreement still needs to be granted by the Iron County School District before the plan can move forward. On Sept. 8, the Iron County Commission will discuss the development agreement, followed by a 30-day public notice period, after which the incentive will then be made official.

We’re tapping into a natural resource that we anticipate will always be available,” Miller said.

Other Business

The Commission received a report regarding the results of a 2013 independent audit presented by Mike Spilker, CPA with HintonBurdick. The majority financial results of the audit were expected and regular, Spilker said. The Commission members collectively thanked the different department heads for staying within their budgets and for making these positive numbers possible.

“A lot of effort goes into keeping these number where they need to be,” Miller said.

A request for a settlement on personal property taxes was put forward by Chris Mackert of Star Sign and Banner in Cedar City.

When the company was purchased from its previous owner in 2011, Mackert said, unpaid taxes on the company assets were also passed over to himself and fellow new owners. The unpaid tax debts were unknown to the new owners, who have since ceased payments to the previous owner, citing a breach of contract.

Mackert requested the total amount of the debt owned, totaling $1,251.53, possibly be amended since he was not aware of the unpaid taxes and fees from the previous owner and has been current and up-to-date with his taxes since acquiring the business.

“… We’re just looking to get put this behind us and move forward,” Mackert said.

The Commission was unwilling to waive the penalties and fees from the unpaid taxes but suggested Mackert take the previous owner to court for the amount after it has been paid.  Mackert agreed and thanked the Commission members for their time.

The next Iron County Commission meeting is set to begin at 9 a.m. on Sept. 8 at the Iron County Courthouse in Parowan located at 68 S. 100 East.

Ed. note: CORRECTION made from Applied Technology Center to Southwest Applied Technology College.

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  • Peggy Green August 26, 2014 at 5:53 am

    SWATC is the Southwest Applied Technology College. Thank you for including us.

    • Joyce Kuzmanic August 26, 2014 at 6:08 am

      Thank you Peggy, correction made.
      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

      • Peggy Green August 26, 2014 at 3:21 pm

        Thank you Joyce. We do appreciate the correction.

  • Brian August 26, 2014 at 7:17 am

    Does anyone know what type of solar they’re planning on putting in? I’m glad it’s one that doesn’t require water.

  • Big Guy August 26, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    We’re all in favor of solar energy…until we realize that its cost is far above that of carbon-based power generation. Notice that the story highlights tax abatements that in part make the project feasible. Not discussed in the article are the Federal tax incentives the project needs to be feasible. And, oh, the power will probably be sold to California that requires its utilities to use an uneconomic percentage of renewable energy and requires its citizens to pay some of the highest electricity rates in the country as a result. All this economic waste so that “greens” can feel good about themselves. And help for the environment? China and India generate far more greenhouse gases than we do: if all U.S. greenhouse gases were eliminated tomorrow, the climate wouldn’t notice and increases would continue to occur because of sources outside our borders. Call me back when solar power is economic without tax subsidies.

    • Brian August 26, 2014 at 4:27 pm

      I can’t speak about large projects like this, but solar on a residential level makes sense right now. Even figuring in financing costs, the ROI on residential solar is less than 10 years (at current rates). As rates continue to rise, the ROI becomes even lower, possibly as low as 5 – 7 years. The systems should last 25+. The only reason I don’t have solar covering my roof is the desire to stay out of debt (for religious reasons). But from a purely financial standpoint, we’re nuts not to have solar and do net-metering. After the 5 – 10 years to pay off the system your electricity is free for as long as the system can be maintained. Add to that the emergency preparedness benefits and having lights when everyone elses power is out, and it’s a no brainer. And because you’re still tied into the grid you still have all the power you need and aren’t dependent on your system. If it goes down, you still have lights and A/C (you just have to pay for the electricity, which will help you appreciate your solar even more).

  • Char August 26, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Is there anywhere to see just what kind of solar they are proposing? It says no use of water, but…….

  • Big Guy August 27, 2014 at 5:48 am

    Brian, solar only makes sense because of all the tax incentives offered to both individuals and to the companies that make and install solar systems. Guess who pays for those incentives: all tax payers who don’t realize they are subsidizing the few. German electricity prices have risen 60% as a result of their massive, government-mandated conversion to renewable energy. Here’s a quote from a current newspaper article:
    “Average electricity prices for [German] companies have jumped 60% over the past five years because of costs passed along as part of government subsidies of renewable energy producers. Prices are now more than double those in the U.S.”

    • Brian August 27, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      Even with zero rebates, tax credits, or incentives solar still makes sense for your own residence or business. The panels can be purchased for as little at $0.58 per watt ( Inverters are constantly improving and getting cheaper. The installation is the pricey part, and has to be signed off by a certified installer, but if you do most of your own labor and have them sign off on it you can still easily have an ROI of less than 10 years. For equipment that will last 25 years that’s an easy call. For example, a 6,000 watt grid-tied system (complete with everything you need, including a grid-tie inverter, panels, mounts, etc) is less than $10,000 without any incentives or credits. That’s more than enough to offset my usage through net-metering. I pay $132 a month to Rocky Mountain Power (equalized over the year). $132 * 12 months * 25 years = $39,600. That’s a savings of almost $20,000 over the life of the system. And that’s if rates stay this low (which they aren’t and won’t). Any tax credits are above and beyond that. What’s not to like?

  • Bobber August 27, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Just last week as I was killing time in my psychiatrist’s waiting room, I was reading an article about how solar energy is killing birds by the thousands, down south of Las Vegas. They fly into the area, and are roasted alive. Must not be LDS birds. . .

  • My Evil Twin August 27, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Bobber the idiot strikes again. . .

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