Solar panel project to add more than a million bucks annually to Decatur County tax books

Published 4:55 pm Friday, November 21, 2014

The planned solar energy project to be located in and around the Decatur County Industrial Park is nearing complete approval.  

Rick McCaskill, Executive Director of the Development Authority of Bainbridge & Decatur County, informed his board of directors Thursday that only Georgia Public Service Commission approval remained before Tradewind Energy could begin construction on a 968-acre solar energy facility. The PSC approval would come at a December 16 meeting.

Tradewind Energy is a Kansas-based alternative power development company. The company plans to build and operate a facility that would generate 20 megawatts of power on 168 acres of county-owned property in the industrial park and another project that would generate 80 megawatts of power on roughly 800 acres of private land adjacent to the industrial park.

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Tradewind Energy will install the solar panels and Southern Power will operate the solar power facility. Southern Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, is a wholesale energy provider. The energy generated by the solar farm would be sold to Georgia Power to meet the needs of customers throughout the area.

The capital investment for the project is estimated to be $200 million. Based on the current millage rates, property taxes for the taxable equipment would project to roughly $1.7 million annually. Of that total, the Decatur County Board of Education would realize an estimated $970,000 and Decatur County would receive about $700,000.

“Normally, when you get projects that generate these kind of tax numbers, you have to turn around and  spend some of that to facilitate the project. What’s great about this project is that we don’t have to do that,” McCaskill said. “This is a major, major project that we should all be excited about.”

Tradewind Energy will pay full ad valorem taxes in the first year of operation. The company did not request any type of tax abatement and county and IDA officials offered no tax relief.

McCaskill indicated that the construction of the solar panels at both locations would be complete by December 31, 2015.