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Energy firm proposes $85M battery bank in Burnet County

James Oakley

Burnet County Judge James Oakley reviews a presentation from Black Mountain Energy Storage, which proposes installing a large battery bank in Burnet County. Black Mountain representatives asked for a substantial property tax abatement on the project from the county. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Burnet County Commissioners Court heard a presentation from representatives of Black Mountain Energy Storage, which is looking at building an $85 million energy storage facility near Max Starcke Dam. The representatives requested a sizable tax abatement to facilitate construction that could be the deciding factor on whether the firm moves forward with the project.

Burnet County has never issued a tax abatement, County Judge James Oakley told company reps, but this is a unique situation that has not come before commissioners in the past. No action was taken on the matter during the Commissioners Court’s regular meeting on Feb. 28. 

The battery bank would connect to the power grid through a substation owned by the Lower Colorado River Authority and provide supplemental power when the grid is overwhelmed.

It also would allow the energy firm to sell collected power back to the LCRA or Electric Reliability Council of Texas. The firm is requesting a 60 percent tax abatement for the first 10 years of the facility’s projected 30-year operation to curb the major upfront costs of construction.

The abatement would greatly increase the likelihood of construction, according to Black Mountain Energy Storage tax consultant Garret Peters.

“Generally, those projects that get abated are significantly de-risked and have a greater chance of getting constructed,” he said.

The battery bank would be installed on a 9-acre parcel off of FM 2147 near Max Starcke Dam and hold an estimated 174-megawatt hours of power, the equivalent of 1,000 acres of solar panels, said Black Mountain Director of Development Sam Jackson.

“Our siting analytics team has identified that this particular substation owned by LCRA is experiencing a lot of congestion and resiliency issues, so having a 100-megawatt battery here, we’re able to hold electricity in this unit and discharge in times of grid congestion,” he said.

The facility would contribute an estimated $9 million in taxes to the Marble Falls Independent School District across its 30-year lifespan and $1.9 million to the county, even with a 60 percent tax abatement for the first 10 years. It would also contribute roughly $460,000 to Burnet County Emergency Services District No. 6 in the same timeframe.

If construction moves forward, it would begin in late 2024 and most likely conclude by mid-2025. Multiple public hearings would ultimately be required leading up to construction.