solar

The Louise ISD board of trustees will hear from another solar energy company and possibly accept a Chapter 313 tax value limitation application at Monday’s regular meeting.

Trustees will hear a presentation from Jordan Crisman, a representative for Austin-based SunChase Power, LLC about the Louise Solar Project. Sunchase is a renewable energy company focused on developing utility-scale and large industrial behind-the-meter solar energy projects.

“During the presentation, we will get a feel for who they (SunChase) are and a feel for the scope of the project,” said Superintendent Garth Oliver.

When asked by the newspaper, Oliver did not have information regarding the scope of the solar project.

“They have talked to us saying they are interested in coming to apply. Recently, the board amended local policy to hear these presentations. After the presentation, we will have better information,” he said.

A project seeking a 313 limitation must make a formal application to the school district in which the property is to be located and pay the district an application fee, which typically ranges from $75,000 to $150,000. The district uses the fee to defray its consideration costs, including the cost of hiring school finance consultants.

If the board accepts the application, SunChase will more than likely pay a non-refundable application fee in the amount of $75,000, Oliver said.

Hecate Energy LLC’s application for a $500 million, 4,000-acre, 500 megawatt-solar farm proposed for outside Louise is still under review by the State Comptroller’s Office. The board has yet to decide what Hecate’s $75,000-application fee will be put toward.

“It goes into the general fund. Part of it will go to Moak, Casey & Associates, the consultants who do a large portion of 313s in Texas (who were consultants for Louise ISD). It would be up to me, our district business manager and the board about what would be done with the rest,” he said.

“It’s a windfall. It’s money we didn’t expect. And the same can be said for SunChase’s fee,” Oliver added.

In other news, Hecate’s application for a Chapter 312 tax abatement agreement with Wharton County Commissioners Court recently failed for lack of a motion.

To ease the sting of high property taxes and improve the economics of potential investments, Texas law allows cities and counties to offer temporary tax abatements under Chapter 312 of the Tax Code and school districts to offer lesser benefits under Chapter 313. Chapter 313s allow a school district to offer a temporary, 10-year limit (ranging from $10 million to $100 million) on the taxable value of a new investment project in manufacturing, and certain environmentally friendly energy projects.

“It took awhile for my board to understand the benefits of what this brings to the district and the county,” Oliver said of 313s.

In other business, the board will hear a facilities report from Oliver.

“We will talk about where we will go from this point to determine if we want to paint a few things, and what we are able to fix with our current budget,” Oliver said in reference to a failed, $10 million bond election earlier this month.

Trustees will also conduct a budget workshop during the meeting.

“We will talk about the different things we are looking at and what we need to fix, repair or purchase. Is it a bus, uniforms or painting year? That way the board can look at any thoughts and ideas to shine the light on what we are doing here so we’re not spending money in the dark,” Oliver said.

Trustees will go into closed session to discuss hiring an elementary teacher.

“We are still looking for a high school math teacher,” Oliver said.

Trustees will meet at 7 p.m. Monday, May 20 in the board room at 408 Second in Louise. Time is alloted for public comments.

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