Solar Investment in Emery County Advancing Rapidly

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By Julie Johansen

Luigi Resta, Executive Vice President of Utility Solar Development of Oynx Renewables, gave a presentation to the Emery County Commissioners at a meeting this past Tuesday.

Resta reported that PacifiCorp had issued a request for proposals (RFP), seeking cost competitive bids for solar energy interconnecting with or delivering to their system that will reduce costs and provide benefits for customers. PacifiCorp will attempt to establish an initial shortlist  of projects that include up to approximately 2,000 megawatts of solar capacity. This request was issued on Nov. 15 and proposals are due on Dec.11.

Onyx Renewables is preparing three proposals for presentation to PacifiCorp, two sites in Green River and one at Castle Valley Ranch in Moore. In order to make these cost effective, the company is requesting a 70% tax abatement from Emery County.

“This is 6,600 acres of land that are at present in Greenbelt and pay $2,779 to the county each year but with Onyx’s utility-scale projects built on these lands with a total of 575 megawatts, the total paid to the county would be $1,000,000 a year or $14,000,000 over twenty years,” Resta said.

Mr. Johnson and Mr. Fauver from Castle Valley Ranch accompanied Resta, assuring their support. The county commissioners inquired if this will pay its way or does the county wait for future projects that request no tax abatement. Emery County had previously retained Zions Agency to make sure these economic decisions are sound and are waiting for advice from this agency.

Other requests from Resta included a new zoning ordinance making it clear that large-scale solar is a permissible use, conditional use permits for the three projects, the formation of a reinvestment agency required to make the abatements and approval of Community Reinvestment Areas for each project. The urgency of these requests in order to make the deadline for proposals will necessitate a special work meeting for the Emery County Planning Commission.

If the planning commission recommends these permits and zoning ordinance amendments to the commissioners, then a public hearing will be hosted. This will make it impossible to give a definite decision by the Dec. 11 deadline, but expectations can be projected.

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