Solar ordinance hearing set

Published 4:36 pm Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Buckingham County Board of Supervisors has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, Oct. 12, for a revenue sharing ordinance on county solar farms.

At the Monday, Sept. 13, board meeting, County Administrator Karl Carter asked the board to set a public hearing to adopt an ordinance which would allow revenue sharing for future solar farms.

Carter explained to listeners Monday night that in the wake of increased interest throughout the county in the development of solar farms, the board had previously appointed a solar committee to look into possible issues on the horizon.

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When studying how the county could collect revenue on possible future solar projects, the committee explored two options.

Previously, Carter noted, the county’s main option for collecting revenue through solar farms would have been through the county’s machinery and tools tax. Through the tax, the State Corporation Commission could assess the value of taxable equipment, and the solar entity would pay taxes on that value.

The problem with this option is that equipment at the solar farms would depreciate in value over the years, in turn lowering the amount of tax revenue the county could collect each year. The machinery and tools tax would also affect the county’s composite index which could impact school funding.

However, thanks to recent legislation, the county now has the option to create a revenue sharing ordinance in relation to solar farms. The ordinance would not factor in equipment but rather use a formula for revenue sharing based on the size of the farm in which the county would receive $1,400 per megawatt (MW).

For example, in the instance of a 130 MW solar farm, the county would receive $182,000 in the first year.

Through revenue sharing, the county would not see a depreciation in the revenue collected through the entity. In fact, funds would escalate as time goes on.

In the case of a 130 MW facility, funds would increase by 10% every five years, resulting in a project that brings in over $10 million across a 40 year life span. The revenue sharing model will not affect the county’s composite index.

With the exception of District 7 Supervisor Danny Allen, who was not present at Monday’s meeting, all board members approved to schedule a public hearing for Oct. 12 on the potential revenue sharing ordinance.