Los Fresnos News

Wind farms generate money to RGV economy, school districts

A wind farm along FM 510 northeast of Los Fresnos. Photo: Tony Vindell / LFN

By TONY VINDELL
LFN

Several wind farms have been built in Cameron and Willacy counties in the last 10 years while some of the existing ones have been expanding their operations.

And although the green energy they generate is used to power homes as far away as San Antonio and Austin, they play an important role to the area economy, particularly to school districts.

Willacy County has the most, but Cameron is not that far behind.
Just in the Los Fresnos area alone, two such businesses have been built – San Roman Wind Farm along FM 510 and Cameron Wind Farm along FM 1847 north of the city.

The two farms pump a sizable amount of money into Los Fresnos CISD as part of an agreement worked out between the two entities.

District Superintendent Gonzalo Salazar said under a Chapter 313 agreement, the wind farm gets a property tax break because they are renewable energy companies.

“They get a tax reduction in lieu of payment,” he said, “In turn, they pay the district a percentage of their profits.”

Such agreements are usually good for 10 to 25 years, or the lifespan of a project.

Wind turbines wait to go up at another wind farm project north of Harlingen. Photo: Tony Vindell / LFN

Figures from Cameron County show the wind farms’ effects as they generate more than $6.1 million in salaries alone. Additionally, the county’s tax base, road and bridge and drainage districts, and the area school districts get another $114 million annually.

Mark Yates, the office director, had said green power projects are great investments.

“We are in an area where there is a lot of wind,” he said. “These wind farms create jobs and benefit other entities like the school districts.”

In Willacy County, E-ON Climate & Renewables and Duke Energy operate the largest wind farms in the region, while two others are in the process of being built.

The two companies received a break in taxes, or abatements, during the life span or over a 25-year agreement. E-ON received a 75 percent tax abatement for the first 10 years. Duke received an 85 percent abatement that includes extra money to the county in lieu of taxes, or $270,000.

Raymondville ISD Superintendent Stetson Roane said earlier the development of wind farms in Willacy County has been a tremendous benefit.

The district has received more than a $1 million and will get an additional $2.1 million over the lifetime of the agreement.

“These wind farms provide clean energy and revenue to help Willacy County flourish,” he said. “Raymondville and Willacy County are leading the way in clean energy.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *