BONHAM — Fannin County commissioners are likely to soon consider creating a reimbursement zone and pilot agreement for a $100 million power storage facility near Savoy.
Commissioners met with Austin Willis, director of solar and storage at Belltown Power Texas, on Tuesday for a discussion about the proposed project that would create, at a minimum, a 300-megawatt battery facility. The project would be located adjacent to a substation on 5 acres that’s currently under lease with a landowner between Savoy and Highway 82, Willis said.
The battery facility could help offset rolling blackouts, like those experienced during the deadly winter storm in February, County Judge Randy Moore said. It would also meet the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ need for additional storage facilities, Willis said.
“There’s a lot of desire now to have standalone battery storage facilities at substations that can handle the load,” he said, also pointing to the February black outs as the reason.
Substations around the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex that are considered to be strategically located are targeted as that resource.
Three hundred megawatts would meet about one hour of load, but depending on investors, Willis said the project could expand to 600 megawatt hours, meeting two hours of load. It takes an hour or two to recharge the batteries, which can also be partially charged and discharged, Willis said.
The storage facility would have a lifespan of 15 years, and it would use lithium ion batteries, which are easier to recycle, Willis said. Answering a question about how generated heat would be controlled, Willis said the facility would have a built-in HVAC system to keep the batteries cool. Once built, an operator would remotely monitor and manage the batteries, he said. And, if at the end of the agreement the company no longer wishes to use the battery facility, it would be cleaned up and the land restored as close to original condition as possible, Willis said.
While Willis couldn’t guarantee that electricity would go directly to local residents if there’s a power outage, having the facility nearby swings the odds in the county’s favor, he said. The county also would benefit financially from having a $100 million project on land that’s currently not generating as much in tax revenue, Willis said.
Because of the state law limiting how much more revenue a taxing entity can generate from property taxes year over year, Moore said a reimbursement zone and pilot agreement may be more lucrative for the county than collecting property taxes on the project.
Commissioners are expected to provide further consideration of the project at future meetings.
In other business, commissioners reinstated the county’s Covid-19 disaster declaration after Moore’s weekly update on case numbers. On Monday, there were 4,349 total cases in Fannin County since March 2020 with 80 active cases. That’s down from 119 active cases the week prior. Five more residents died while infected with Covid-19, Moore said, increasing the death count to 128.
Fannin County is in Trauma Service Area E, which includes the DFW metroplex, and it’s Covid-19 hospitalization rate dropped from 22.1% last week to 20.26% on Monday, Moore reported.
“So, we’re seeing the right things happening,” the county judge said.
Prior to extending the disaster declaration to Sept. 28, commissioners approved a resolution supporting Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning vaccine mandates. The resolution states the Commissioners’ Court “is not pro-vaccine, nor anti-vaccine, but pro-freedom for each person’s ability and responsibility to decide for themselves.”
Moore was joined by all commissioners except Commissioner Dean Lackey in signing the resolution. Lackey was absent from the meeting.
Also on Tuesday, commissioners continued to discuss distributing $122,009.21 in Unclaimed Property Capital Credits, which must be used for for economic development, small or disadvantaged business development, to stimulate business location or commercial activity, to advertise the county to attract conventions, to support literacy programs that benefit county residents or support a children’s advocacy center. Moore previously said the county usually receives between $1,500 and $2,000 in credits.
Commissioners sought feedback on how to spend the funds, and suggestions included purchasing Lake Fannin; providing funds to the Honey Grove Library or all libraries in the county, the Bonham Chamber of Commerce, Fannin County Children’s Center, Fannin County Child Welfare Board or Creative Arts Center; or installing park benches at the Fannin County Courthouse.
Commissioners tabled the item until next week.