The higher-ups at Clean Vision Solar, LLC thought they had it all figured out. Dangle a $120 million solar array project on 2,241 acres of land about 60 miles south of Dallas, Texas, and the local college would be delighted to fork over juicy tax abatements to please the company’s investors.
It’s not working out as expected. During a May meeting of the Navarro College Board of Trustees, questions were raised about just how many permanent jobs the renewable energy project would create and, more broadly, just how Navarro County, where the community college is located, would benefit from the project and from the goodies (tax abatements) the college was supposed to grant.
Only Two Full-Time Jobs
During the discussion on the company’s request, Board Member Todd McGraw said he had never seen a company ask for tax abatements when its project would create only two full-time jobs.
“They expect to hire someone to mow the grass and turn the system on,” said Sam Moore who represented Clean Vision Solar, LLC at the meeting (Corsicana Daily Sun, May 27).
The motion to approve the tax abatements in the designated reinvestment zone died for lack of a second. Now that it is bereft of the coveted tax abatements, the company, which like other solar and wind developers, already receives federal subsidies, must decide whether to go ahead with the project.
It was anticipated that Clean Vision Solar, LLC would hire 300 workers for the project and would hire more during the lifetime of the solar array. The drop from 300 to two, coupled with requests for more tax abatements as the project grew to over 2,000 acres, has not gone down well locally.
“We’re not here to help investors make money,” said K.C. Wyatt, Navarro College Board member. “If they want to build the project they will.”
Over-Promise and Under-Deliver
“History shows that renewable energy projects over-promise and under-deliver on jobs and other economic benefits,” says Cutter Gonzales of the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). “Usually, these subsidies help the wealthy and connected renewable energy companies, at the expense of everyone else. Navarro College put its students and community first by not agreeing to that deal.”
Across the country, solar array developers snuggle up to local utilities and politicians to finagle the best possible sweetheart deals for their otherwise uneconomical projects. In many cases, local residents who see these monstrosities dumped in their rural surroundings never benefit from what little electricity the giant solar arrays produce. The power is diverted to Silicon Valley data centers, allowing the tech moguls at Facebook, Apple, and their ilk to claim that these operations are 100% renewable. It’s a big lie, because the thousands of solar panels at these industrial installations produce absolutely zero power when the sun doesn’t shine (at night) or when there’s cloud cover. At that point, fossil fuels (usually natural gas) or giant chemical-laden batteries have to serve as backup.
Welcome to the world of green energy.