November 3, 2020 9:51:12 AM
For the second time in nine months, Lowndes County supervisors have tentatively approved a fee-in-lieu of taxes (FILOT) agreement with a solar power provider.
Supervisors unanimously approved an agreement with an unidentified solar power company on the recommendation of Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins during Monday's regular board meeting.
The LINK is contracted to lead industrial recruitment and development efforts in the area.
Higgins provided few details of the planned solar farm other than to say it would be located west of the county's Infinity Megasite in the western part of the county. Higgins said the fee-in-lieu request for a $60 million project, the minimum investment to be eligible for a FILOT, could be substantially higher.
"(The company) is working its way through the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) award process for a contract to provide solar energy," Higgins told the supervisors. "What they want to know is that if TVA awards the contract, y'all will give them a fee-in-lieu on the project."
At $60 million, the company's fee-in-lieu would generate $118,000 annually for the county and $140,000 for Lowndes County School District during the 10-year FILOT agreement. That amounts to roughly one-third of what full taxes would be during the agreement period.
"But, again, the project could be larger than that," Higgins emphasized.
Higgins said the company is not asking the county for any infrastructure investments.
"They're not asking y'all to contribute any money for water, sewer, roads or anything like that," he said. "This is a notice of intent that if they come back with a contract with TVA and ask for a fee-in-lieu, y'all will give it to them."
Higgins reminded supervisors they had twice previously approved tentative FILOT agreements with solar power providers, most recently in February.
Supervisors passed an intent to provide a FILOT to Florida-based Origis Energy for a $200 million solar farm located on 1,900 acres west of the Infinity site. The company has since been awarded a contract and is expected to start producing energy by fall 2022.
Once the project is completed, Origis will request a fee-in-lieu agreement based on the county's intent resolution passed in February.
Higgins said the same conditions would apply after Monday's decision but did not provide any idea of when the project, if approved by TVA, would be completed.
In other business, the board voted unanimously to extend the county's face mask mandate until Dec. 15. The county's mask mandate, which was first put in place in late July, was extended in October and was set to expire on Nov. 11.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]
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