Impact Solar farm in southeast Lamar County

An aerial image of the Impact Solar Farm in southeast Lamar County.

The first of several large solar farms to locate in Lamar County, Impact Solar, is now in full operation, supplying enough electricity for 41,000 Texas homes, adding millions of dollars to Prairiland ISD coffers and providing income for at least 25 years to landowners who own the 1,900 acres beneath the solar panels.

Through a long-term contract, parent company Lightsource bp will sell the energy generated by the $250 million project to industry giant bp, formerly British Petroleum, according to information received late last week from the company.

For Prairiland ISD, the project means about $4.3 million added to its coffers over the next decade. Impact Solar paid the district $108,900 last year, and should make a similar payment later this month, according to Prairiland Superintendent Jeff Ballard.

“We are due a revenue protection payment of $2.1 million in January 2022,” Ballard said. “The payment is triggered by the projected value of the site hitting the tax roll.”

For 89-year-old landowner Waylon Norrell and his wife, Pat, who own about 600 acres of the 1,900 acres leased by the solar farm, revenue will provide retirement income while the family keeps farmland that has been in the Norrell family for more than 120 years.

“Until this opportunity came about, my dad and my brother Gerald were still farming,” Jay Cooper, of Mt. Pleasant, said. “With solar, we’re able to keep the land in the family, and we are comfortable that Lightsource bp will be good stewards.”

Parent company Lighthouse bp plans to be a net-zero company by 2050 or sooner, meaning its goal is to produce no more greenhouse gas emissions than it removes from the atmosphere. By 2030, the company plans to increase low carbon investments to roughly $5 billion each year. This includes developing roughly 50 gigawatts of net renewable energy generating capacity, a 20-fold increase of the 2.5 gigawatts to date, according to information provided Thursday.

“The Impact Solar project in Texas is one of the many ways we are turning our net zero ambition into action,” bp’s senior vice president Orlando Alvares said. He added that by providing Impact Solar’s renewable power, the company is eliminating the carbon equivalent of emissions from over 68,000 fuel-burning cars.

“This project in Texas is a great example of how our joint venture with bp is furthering our shared mission to accelerate the implementation of solar,” CEO of the Americas, Lightsource bp, Kevin Smith said. “The company’s initial investment in 2017 and with our subsequent expansion into the U.S., the team has developed a pipeline of 8 gigawatts of large-scale solar projects at various stages of development in 20 states with more than 2 gigawatts of executed power contracts representing almost $2 billion in near term projects.”

Lightsource bp in the U.S. is headquartered in San Francisco with development offices in Denver, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Houston. For more information, visit lightsourcebp.com, follow on Twitter @lightsourceBP and Instagram @lightsourcebp or view the company’s LinkedIn page.

Mary Madewell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6976 or at mary.madewell@theparisnews.com.

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