After lengthy discussion, Grimes County Commissioners approved forwarding a request for a tax abatement for a battery storage facility to a review committee on a 4-1 vote. Commissioner David Dobyanski cast the dissenting vote. The request was made by KCE TX 15, LLC of Albany, New York, at a Regular Meeting of the Grimes County Commissioners Court Wednesday, Nov. 16. KCE’s additional request to have the 42.75 acres between CR 178 and Sleepy Hollow Ln. in Singleton designated as a reinvestment zone will require a public hearing. Speaking on behalf of KCE were Tom Dubel and Joe Rambler.
Abatement with PILOT
According to the abatement description, KCE is requesting a 100% ad valorem property tax abatement during the first 10 years of project operations with a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) at $1,000 per MW of nameplate capacity. Based on an estimated 100 MW of battery energy storage, this would equate to $100,000 in PILOTs to Grimes County per year for $1 million over the 10-year period.
KCE’s investment is expected to be $86.35 million, of which $84.5 million is taxable. The lithium-ion battery storage facility would require no permanent on-site employees but approximately 50 temporary employees would be hired during the 8–10-month construction period.
Dubel began by responding to a public comment countering being labeled a “green” project saying, “We’re energy agnostics. Think of us more as a utility project. The goal of battery storage is really grid stability. It takes energy when there is access and holds it and puts it back on the grid when there is need.”
According to Rambler, the project “footprint” will be on 3-3.5 acres of the 42 acres KCE has purchased.
Their projected contribution to Grimes County’s tax revenue over 20 years is between $3-6 million. Dubel credited the variation to how Texas appraisal districts view the life of a battery saying it can vary between 8-10 years. He pointed to potential revenue of $8-14 million for Anderson-Shiro CISD and noted later that KCE will not be pursuing a school tax abatement.
Commissioners put forth a number of questions related to sales tax, when the energy is used, hazards and containment.
County Attorney Jon C. Fultz clarified that an abatement is different from a 381 Agreement and the questions the court should be asking are, “Do you own it already, are you coming anyway, are you creating any positions?”
He suggested the court needs to decide if they want to incentivize the company to come.
Responding to a comment about “building anyway,” Dubel said, “This company owns and controls lots of land across Texas due to the opportunity for investment. Not every one of these has been built. It still has to go through the same financial decision that any project for any company would have to go through because it has to make sense. It’s an investment horizon.”
Other court action:
•Approved Consent Agenda items which included the Treasurer’s list of claims and bills, payroll and budget amendments and/or line-item transfers.
•Approved surplus computer items for auction on www.govedeals.com.
•Approved the Planned Equipment Maintenance Agreement with Cummins Sales and Service for five years at a cost of $27,671.06.
•Approved certifying and canvassing of returns for the Nov. 8 General Election.
•Approved enrollment in TAC Cybersecurity Course for 2022-23 and authorized the county judge as signatory.
•Approved reducing the residential speed limit from 35 to 20 mph in Phase I of the Holland Ridge Subdivision.
•Approved the final plat of the Krat Subdivision comprised of 17 1-acre lots on CR 178 in Pct. 1 and the $178,000 associated bonds.
•Approved participation in the Amber Alert Network Brazos Valley in 2023 at a cost of $2,500.
•Approved completion of TxDOT’s Application for Materials On Hand and authorize the county judge as signatory. Grimes County’s allotment of surplus RAP material for fiscal year 2023 is $23,969
•No action taken regarding ARPA expenditures or the Strategic Plan.
•The court took no action regarding the potential sale of the Annex because the appraisal had not been received. Blake Vezurk, Business Manager for the Anderson-Shiro CISD confirmed the District’s interest in the property as a result of increased enrollment at the elementary school.
•Resident Connie Clements asked commissioners to deny KCE’s abatement request based on little or no return in the way of jobs or revenue generated and because the company already receives federal incentives.
Burn Ban: The burn ban remains lifted.