County approves resolution to consider IRB for Encino North solar farm

BERNALILLO – Sandoval County is moving forward by authorizing a second solar farm along Encino Road.

The committee unanimously approved a resolution Thursday to consider an industrial tax liability that would go to the Encino North solar farm, more than two years after the existing Encino solar site came on the scene.

“(Additional renewables) a goal in itself, but also an increase in tax revenue in the form of LTCP payments to the county,” county manager Wayne Johnson told the Observer. “Right now you have mostly farmland with a very low tax rate… It’s a great way to generate income for the county. “

LTCP refers to payment in lieu of taxes, whereby a business accepts payment to a government entity instead of paying taxes.

Rob Burpo, president of First American Financial Advisors, told the board that the Encino North site will span 494 acres at an estimated cost of $ 50 million and utility PNM will be the initial purchaser. under a power purchase contract.

Burpo also told the council that solar farms are designed to generate lower consumption rates.

The commission previously approved an industrial revenue bond worth up to $ 70 million in 2019 to finance the construction of the first facility. The existing solar park, about 15 km northwest of Unser Boulevard and Paseo del Volcan, generates a LTCP of $ 100,000 each year. The Encino Nord site will be just north of the existing site.

Johnson told the Observer the county can officially launch negotiations on IRB terms for the Encino North solar farm.

He also said it was possible that the new farm could create 150 to 200 new construction jobs.

“The way IRBs work is that the ownership over the life of the IRB actually belongs to the county, where the tax deduction comes from, which is why you are negotiating the PILTs,” Johnson said. “It’s a lot of money over time, but it keeps these projects working over time. “

The Encino North solar park would be developed by New Mexico Renewable Development, a company between PNM and American Electric Power. The project will have up to 50 megawatts of generation capacity.

“The county’s goal is relatively straightforward in this case: we now have higher incomes than we would ever have obtained from the land if it had not been developed for other purposes,” Johnson said.

The amount of income from the new project remains to be determined.

Sandoval County will get about two-thirds of the LTCP for the new solar farm. About 33% of the PILT funding for the new project will go to five school districts in the region: Rio Rancho public schools, Bernalillo public schools, Jemez Valley public schools, Independent schools in Cuba, and public schools in Cuba. Albuquerque (due to places like Corrales Elementary School, Burpo noted).

Johnson told the Observer there was a change in the law regarding LTIP distributions during the last legislative session to require that this money be divided equally among these school districts. Johnson said that before the change, only public schools in Jemez Valley were benefiting from the 2019 solar farm project.

Construction of the Encino North solar park project is expected to begin in the spring of 2022, and power generation will begin in June 2023.

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