Llano County commissioners consider solar farm deal for school revenue
STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
LLANO — Llano County commissioners proposed leasing several thousand acres of property in West Texas to a renewable energy company to launch a solar power farm, creating a potential revenue stream for local education.
A contract could be reached by the next regular meeting Oct. 23 after narrowing a list of prospective companies to one: Germany-based E.ON.
Llano County owns and manages 17,000 acres just outside of San Angelo in Tom Green County, part of the so-called School Land property that several counties across the state maintain to benefit their respective school districts.
“We were contacted six months ago by a couple of different solar farms (operators),” said Llano County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry Don Moss. “We approved to move forward with E.ON and negotiate a contract. They’re interested in about 7,000 acres.”
Profits derived from the potential agreement would benefit all of Llano Independent School District and a portion of Burnet County, which includes the Burnet Consolidated Independent School District.
The potential revenue breakdown would be 90 percent to Llano ISD and 10 percent to Burnet CISD.
“There’s a big benefit in that (School Land revenue) is not affected by Robin Hood (school finance formula), where you have to pay so much back to the state,” Moss said.
E.ON recently presented an outline of its services to the commissioners, stating that example contracts in the energy company’s dealings have grown from $25 per acre on undeveloped land to as much as $250 per acre once energy production begins.
“This could be under production for a 25- to 35-year contract,” Moss said. “This could solve any financial problems for our school district for a long time. I hope so. I hope it works out.”
An online biography of E.ON described the entity as an international company that specializes in energy utilities and powergrid systems connected to both renewable and traditional energy resources.
An initial contract with the commissioners could involve up to a five-year deal with an opportunity for review and potential extensions based on lease agreement stipulations.
In 2016, Llano County officials ended a lease agreement on the Tom Green County property with a company that specializes in saltwater (brackish) disposal.