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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Solar company payments to county estimated at $4.6 million over first 10 years

Updated: Feb 24

One of as many as three solar projects proposed for Linn County would receive about $4.6 million in payents in lieu of taxes over a 10-year period. (Wix file photo)


By Charlene Sims, info@linncountyjournal.com


PARKER – According to a written report and presentation made by County Clerk David Lamb at the Republican Central Committee meeting in Parker on Monday, Feb. 19, the projected income from the Clearway Energy Group’s solar utility project would be nearly $4.6 million the first 10 years of its operation.


That is provided an application for a conditional use permit is made and accepted by the county. And that is for the Clearway’s proposed project only. That boundaries for that would encompass about 3,400 acres, but the land actually used for the solar panels would be less than two-thirds of that.


EDF Renewables has reportedly entered into leases for a considerable amount of land south of the Clearway project but has not presented any of its plans to the public. And sources also say that Evergy is planning to install solar panels on land it owns north of the current plant, but that has not been confirmed by company officials.


     Although the county’s zoning regulations allow up to 8,000 total acres for use by solar utilities, those regulations are currently on hold after the county commission approved a moratorium on conditional use permits for solar projects until those regulations could be reviewed.


The land for the proposed Clearway solar project at current use would generate about $188,000 in property taxes over that same 10-year period.


While state law does not allow property taxes to be collected from renewable energy resource or technology property for the first 10 years of operation, Clearway has tentatively offered the county an annual payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) of about $418,000 per year.


With that offer and the 2% increase yearly, the total amount paid by Clearway over 10 years would be  $4.58 million, a difference of nearly $4.4 million, according to Lamb’s calculations


That money would only go to the county, not school districts, libraries or other local entities unless the county chose to distribute it that way.


While taxes received during the years 11 through 35 of the solar farm’s operation are projected to be about $800,000 per year, only about 41% of that goes to the county or approximately $353,000 per year. The rest would be distributed to other government entities.


Lamb’s estimates show that the county will receive about $650,000 in application fees plus nearly $8.82 million, which is the 41% of the $20 million in taxes that Clearway will pay in years 11 through 35 of the project.


At present Evergy pays approximately $14.5 million in taxes for the tax Unit 11, which is the power plant location. They pay additional taxes on all their power lines and substations across the county, but Unit 11 is the main income.


Of that $14.5 million, the county receives approximately $6.4 million dollars. Some of the other entities that receive part of that tax money are Prairie View USD 362 at $6.9 million; Linn County Library District No. 2 at nearly $459,000; Rural Fire at almost $258,000; State of Kansas, $234,200; and the Extension District No. 16, $117,100. Additional property tax funds are paid out to other local entities. 


According to Lamb, if and when the power plant closes, some tax funds will still come in from that location.


Evergy’s 2021 Integrated Resource Plan called for shutting down generating unit No. 1 of the La Cygne plant by 2032 and closing No. 2 by 2039. However the company planned to shutter its plant near Lawrence last year but has since pushed that deadline back five years.

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