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The company planning to build a solar farm in Gainesville is getting a tax break from the county on the facility.

Cooke County Commissioners this week approved a tax abatement requested by Lone Star Solar LLC, a subsidiary of Canadian renewable energy company Saturn Power Corp. Saturn has partnered with local electric cooperative PenTex Energy for the project on 16 acres next door to 4 County Road 404.

Commissioners agreed to abate half the property taxes on the new equipment for five years. The abatement was approved 4-0 at the Nov. 12 meeting with Precinct 1 Commissioner Gary Hollowell absent.

Lone Star Solar is partnering with PenTex to build the 1-megawatt solar farm on the property at a cost of about $1.4 million for the solar farm plus potentially $1.5 million for energy storage capacity, according to Lone Star Solar’s abatement request to commissioners.

Lone Star Solar will own the facility. PenTex owns the land it’s to be built on and the abatement won’t apply to the land, commissioners clarified at the meeting.

All told, the abatement is expected to reduce Lone Star Solar’s property taxes by up to $6,000 per year for a total of $20,000 to $30,000 over the term of the abatement agreement.

That’s an unusually small abatement amount, Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley said. “But being that they’re partnering with our local electric co-op … that is a substantial number of our residents that are going to be the end user on this,” he said.

He added he might not have supported such a small abatement were it not for the local partnership.

As is, the vacant agricultural land at the corner of County Roads 404 and 1200 isn’t adding much to the tax rolls, commissioners noted. Taxes on it amounted to $37 for 2019, according to Cooke County Appraisal District records.

Before the abatement vote, commissioners also approved creating a reinvestment zone by a 4-0 vote. Texas law says a reinvestment zone must be created in order for a tax abatement to be granted.

Lone Star Solar had also requested an abatement from the city of Gainesville. The city declined to consider one mainly because “solar companies already receive a tax incentive through state law,” but also because of the small amount of taxable property resulting from the project and the lack of permanent jobs, City Manager Barry Sullivan said.

PenTex Energy was one of five electric distribution cooperatives in the state to ink a deal with Saturn Power to purchase a total of seven megawatts of distribution-scale solar energy, the Register reported in May. A PenTex spokesperson previously told the Register that project incorporates medium-sized solar farms near communities that will use the power.

PenTex spokesman Neil Hesse told commissioners the cooperative has almost 11,000 members and supplies power to a total of 16,500 meters. The cooperative covers Cooke, Montague, Wise, Grayson and Denton counties.

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