TLOW presents petition opposing solar farm abatement to Brown County Commissioners Court

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
TLOW member Steven Wilson (center) stands holds files of signatures for a petition as he speaks with Precinct 4 commissioner Larry Traweek after Monday morning's meeting of the Brown County Commissioners Court.

Texas Landowners Opposing Wind presented Brown County Commissioners Court members Monday with a petition with 1,688 signatures of verified county residents who oppose a possible tax abatement for a solar farm project near Brookesmith.

TLOW was initially formed in response to wind farms and has gone on to state its opposition to potential tax abatements for solar farms in Brown County.

TLOW member Jeff Tucker provided a breakdown of the signatures, which were collected by Texas Petition Strategies of Buda:

• Registered voters — 1,199

• Not registered to vote — 469

• Precinct 1 — 362

• Precinct 2 — 379

• Precinct 3 — 440

• Precinct 4 — 487

Commissioners court members have announced May 10 as the date for a public hearing and a vote by the court on whether to create a reinvestment zone and approve a tax abatement agreement for California-based Intersect Power.

TLOW member Steven Wilson told commissioners court members the petition “provides verifiable proof of the overwhelming opposition to these abatements.”

Texas Petition Strategies sent a team to Brown County to solicit signatures, which were verified as Brown County residents through voter rolls and the Brown County Appraisal District, Wilson told the court.

“The goal was 500 verified signatures in seven days,” Wilson said. “That was exceeded in just two days. The final results should leave no question in anyone’s mind that the overwhelming majority of Brown County residents and voters do not want these reinvestment zones or abatement approved by this court.”

Intersect Power wants to build and operate the IP Radian Solar Energy Project on 2,500 acres of land located within the Brookesmith school district. The company seeks a seven-year agreement with the county for the abatement of 55% of its property taxes.

Intersect has said its project would bring $23 million in property tax payments over the 35-year life of the project to Brown County and the Brookesmith school district — $7 million to Brown County and $16 million to the school district.

Opponents to the project have listed numerous objections, including their belief that alternative energy projects hurt land values.