It appears solar power will generate many construction jobs locally as Houston County has been selected as the site of a 1,000-acre solar farm.
Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce President Matt Parker said the project represents a $105 million investment and could generate 200 to 300 jobs during its construction in western Houston County. Additionally the operations of the solar farm will require a few electrical engineers to manage the facility, producing some longer-term jobs.
A formal announcement of the project is expected in a few months once the project is officially finalized, Parker said.
Earlier this week, the Houston County Commission authorized Chairman Mark Culver to amend a tax abatement agreement with Dothan Solar, LLC, to increase the value of the discounts. In November 2018, commissioners approved a tax abatement agreement for the solar farm – a project of NextEra Energy – but the size of the project and investment has increased due to some technological adjustments, Parker said.
The current abatements total $1.2 million during the 10-year period, an increase from the original agreement removing $1 million in tax burdens. Houston County, though, will receive an estimated $2.7 million in construction sales taxes and other levies as a result of the facility’s presence, Parker said.
Taxes that benefit education cannot be abated for economic development purposes.
Of the 1,000 acres of land, 600 acres will be covered with solar panels. Buffers and other facilities will occupy the other 400 acres, according to a previous Eagle article.
The facility will generate about 80 megawatts of power when operational, Parker said. The current largest operating solar farm in Alabama produces 79.2 megawatts in Chambers County, but Google has announced plans to build a 150-megawatt facility in Bridgeport in northeastern Alabama.
The Alabama Municipal Electric Authority has also partnered with Lighthouse BP, a division of British Petroleum, to construct a 100-megawatt farm in Montgomery County that should open in 2022. AMEA provides the majority of the energy Dothan Utilities sells to its customers.
Officials originally projected the Houston County project to begin operations in 2021, but Parker said no timeframe has been established.