EnergieKontor, a German company is planning to build a large solar farm northeast of Eldorado capable of generating 100 megawatts of electricity. The company constructed the solar farm shown above near Ramin, Germany in 2013  --   COURTESY PHOTO
EnergieKontor, a German company is planning to build a large solar farm northeast of Eldorado capable of generating 100 megawatts of electricity. The company constructed the solar farm shown above near Ramin, Germany in 2013 -- COURTESY PHOTO

A German company named EnergieKontor is intending to build a solar farm capable of generating 90 megawatts of electricity just outside of Eldorado. The project, named the Prickly Pear Solar Farm, would be constructed on about 2,000 acres north and east of the AEP substation on County Road 300.

One megawatt of solar power is enough to power more than 100 homes, according to industrial estimates.

Henriette Boom, a project developer for EnergieKontor, met with Schleicher County Commissioners on Monday to discuss the project. She said that she expected the project would be completed in late 2021. She explained that the project was named Prickly Pear because no one involved in the project had ever seen as much prickly pear as currently grows on the project site.

Boom estimated the total value of the Prickly Pear Solar Farm at $90 million when it first goes in operation. She further advised that the project could be expected to depreciate to a base level in about 10 years.

Boom said she was hoping the commissioners would be interested in granting a tax abatement for the project and mentioned setting up an annual payment to the county that would be about 20 percent of what the project would pay in ad valorem taxes if the project went on the tax rolls at full value. The payment would be for the same amount each year and would last for 10 years at which time the depreciated project would go back onto the tax roll.

Boom added that a tax abatement will also be sought from the school district.

Schleicher County ISD has already agreed to abatements for three wind turbine projects under the state’s 313 value limitation program. The first project, the Langford Wind Farm has been in operation for several years. The second is the Live Oak Wind Project north of town that is due to go online by the end of the year. The third, is the Lost Mines Wind Farm, proposed for construction in the southeast part of the county.

Under the 313 program the school receives lump sum payments after the project goes into service.

There is no such program for the county, however, so the commissioners had to negotiate a PILOT, or Payment in Lieu of Taxes, when they granted the county’s first-ever abatement to the Lost Mines Wind Farm project.

A similar arrangement could be reached with EnergieKontor if the commissioners decide to grant a tax abatement on the project.

The commissioners had several questions for Ms. Boom who explained that steps have already been taken to lease the land needed for the project and said the power purchase agreements would need to be negotiated before work on the project begins.

She noted that the project will also require the creation of a reinvestment zone or competitive renewable energy zone, similar to those created for the Langford, Live Oak and the proposed Lost Mines wind farms.

Boom also noted that the project will create several full time jobs during the construction phase of the project and at least two full time positions once the solar farm is up and running.

She went on to say that she is currently working on six solar power projects in Texas.

The commissioners considered the information Boom presented but took no formal action on the matter.

If and when the proposed solar farm is operational, it will consist of thousands of banks of photovoltaic cells such as those pictured here in Ramin, Germany. The cells convert solar energy in to direct current (DC) electricity through the use of semiconducting materials that react to sunlight. The project will connect to the power grid at the AEP substation one mile northeast of Eldorado on CR 300.

EnergieKontor was founded in 1990 by Günter Lammers and Dr. Bodo Wilkens under the name Energiekontor Windkraft GmbH in Bremerhaven, Germany. The company constructed its first wind farm in 1994 and opened its first offices abroad in 1995. Those offices were in Greece and Portugal. An office in the United Kingdom was opened in 1999.

EnergieKontor constructed its first solar farm in 2010 and, according to its website, the company is currently developing solar projects in Germany (Banderburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Bavaria), France (Toulouse) and United States (Texas).