The proposed $184 million Peyton Creek Wind Farm in southern Matagorda County was presented to commissioners court at its regular meeting Monday.
The court unanimously agreed to begin the review process for Peyton Creek’s tax abatement application and to accept the $1,000 application fee.
Several prominent Matagorda County land owners attended Monday’s session to hear about the plan to place 44 to 75 wind turbines on 12,000 to 15,000 leased acres south of Bay City now used primarily for cattle and grazing.
Peyton Creek Wind Farm LLC is part of E.ON, one of the world’s largest owners and operators of onshore and offshore wind farms.
Matagorda County Economic Development Corporation’s (MCEDC) board of directors voted to support the project as green energy development at its June 30 regular meeting.
The project proposes a late 2018 start date and 10 to 14-month construction process – hiring as many as 300 workers – with a late 2019 completion.
An estimated 10 fulltime, high-paying, technical and mechanical jobs would be created, said Richard Saunders, a senior development manager with E.ON, who was introduced at Monday’s meeting by MCEDC Executive Director Mike Ferdinand.
Peyton Creek will hire from the local community for the construction phase and for the fulltime positions, Saunders said.
The wind farm has a 30-year life that would provide a long-term, stable tax base for Matagorda County and for the Bay City and Van Vleck school districts, Saunders told commissioners. Acreage for the wind farm straddles both districts, he explained.
Peyton Creek is seeking a 10-year, 75 percent tax abatement to provide a steady cash flow for the wind farm and, replying to a question from Precinct 2 Commissioner Kent Pollard, Saunders said he contacted both Bay City and Van Vleck school officials to outline the proposal.
That would mean the wind farm’s estimated market value of $184 million would go on the tax rolls at $46 million, or 25 percent of value, if the tax abatement agreements are approved.
Peyton Creek would enter into a state Chapter 313 value limitation agreement with the school districts, and a Chapter 312 property redevelopment and tax abatement agreement with the county.
That pact would require the county to create a tax reinvestment zone that would encompass the Wind Farm’s borders.
E.ON has not built a project in Texas that did not have a Chapter 313 agreement, as it is crucial to exceeding the company’s financial hurdle, Saunders pointed out.
Saunders told commissions that wind energy is not exposed to fluctuations that exist in other energy markets such as nuclear, coal and natural gas.
“It’s cheaper to produce new wind energy than any other new sources,” Saunders remarked at Monday’s meeting.
Wind energy is cost efficient and an energy hedge, he explained during a slideshow presentation.