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Vigo County Council approves tax abatements for solar farm


Duke Energy Renewables Solar LLC took its first step toward
constructing a $180 million solar farm in southern Vigo County and
northern Sullivan County after the Vigo County Council on Tuesday
unanimously approved tax abatements.

The council approved a 10-year tax abatement on property and 10-year
tax abatement on personal property of $100 million, as about 60% of
the project is in Vigo County.

Tim Hayes, environmental development director for Duke Energy's
commercial renewable sites, said the company next will meet with
Sullivan County officials.

"We will go through a similar process there," Hayes said after the
Vigo County Council vote.

"Right now we are targeting development in 2023, but we are still in
the marketing of the power from the project and that all has to fall
in place for the project to move forward, to find a customer for the
output," Hayes said.

If the project is not approved by Sullivan County, Hayes said the
company would have to determine if the project could be redesigned.

"We would have to look at that and see what land is available... that
is an option," Hayes said. "Our preference is to not do that, but keep
the project in both counties."

Prior to the vote, Hayes told the council that the vast majority of
projects nationwide receive some type of abatement, varying by state
and county, due to the competitive nature of renewable power sources.

Duke Energy Renewables solar farm would generate about $50 million in
taxes over 35 years — about $29 million (with tax abatement) in Vigo
County and $21 million in Sullivan County.

Under a tax abatement, the company would have more than $7.9 million
in taxes abated in Vigo County over a 10-year period, but would pay
more than $4.9 million in taxes over the same period. An abatement
gradually phases in taxes over the 10 year period.

When completed, the solar farm would have three permanent jobs with an
estimated wage of $40 to $45 per hour for $240,000 total annual or
$80,000 annually each, according to a tax abatement presented to the

Construction is targeted for 2023, with power generation by mid 2024.
The project will create a maximum of 200 construction jobs over a 12
to 18 month period.

The 175 megawatt, ground-mounted solar generation facility, would
provide enough electricity to power 35,000 homes. The solar farm is
slated for a 1,500-acre site that includes 896 acres in Vigo County
(in Pierson Township and Linton Township) and 604 acres in Sullivan
County. It is located on reclaimed coal strip mine currently being
used for crops.

The site is connected to a 138-kilovolt Duke Energy Indiana
transmission line through a utility-owned interconnection switching
station near Farmersburg. Duke Renewables will lease the site from
Farmer Jack Land Company LLC and Hoosier Jack Land Co. LLC, both owned
by Terre Haute businessman Greg Gibson, for the solar project.

In 2013, Gibson worked with the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp.
to market a 4,650-acre site called the Hoosier Jack Mega Site for
business development. The reclaimed site formerly was Peabody Coal’s
Farmersburg Mine.

Steve Witt, president of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp.,
told the council last week it is difficult to attract traditional
industry to a reclaimed site “because concerns of heavy loads,” as
companies may have to remediate soils of any environmental issues if
ground is disturbed below certain depths. Witt said a solar farm is an
ideal use for a reclaimed brownfield.

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