Solar farm

Solar farms, like this on in Jacksonville, Florida, are coming to McLennan County.

Business Wire photo

A California company is looking to build two solar farms in McLennan County, in a partnership with The Woodlands-based TriEagle Energy.

Robinson City Council gave Cypress Creek Renewables a zoning change and special-use permit Tuesday for about 54 acres near 1633 Greig Drive, and McLennan County commissioners took the first step to potentially provide tax breaks for another Cypress Creek solar project in an unincorporated area near Bruceville- Eddy.

The company has several ongoing projects in Texas and is trying to develop rapidly here, spokesman Jeff McKay said.

McLennan County Precinct 2 Commissioner Kelly Snell, whose precinct includes Robinson, said he is excited to see both projects progress. Snell said he is a supporter of good, clean energy to knock down emissions. Solar farms add taxable value to the area without using water and wastewater resources, he said.

Energy will be sold to consumers using a company called SunEagle, Cypress Creek Renewables representative Shane Shields said. Plans are still in the conceptual phase, but the solar farm would occupy about 48 acres of the 54-acre site in Robinson, he said.

The company and the city reached out to neighbors of the property, and none responded with opposition, City Manager Craig Lemin said.

In November, Cypress Creek Renewables announced a partnership with TriEagle Energy to introduce SunEagle, which will be a direct-to-consumer program to sell solar energy to residential customers, according to a press release.

“As this area grows, there’s going to be a greater demand for power,” Lemin said.

The proposed plant in Robinson would require a $6 million to $9 million investment, Shields told the city council. The company has to perform a utility study before work can proceed, which could take a year and a half, he said.

The solar farm will contain rows of photovoltaic cell panels with an anti-reflective coating mounted on posts set in the ground. The panels would be no more than 25 feet high and pivot to follow the sun throughout the day, according to the company’s application with the city.

“Solar energy is essential and desirable to the public convenience and welfare,” the application states. “Demand for electricity has increased in recent years, and our society is currently dependent upon conventional sources of power such as coal, gas and nuclear energy. Conventional sources of electricity are expensive, finite resources that require significant environmental disruption and public safety risk to maintain or extract. Solar energy is a clean, cheap, unlimited resource with little environmental impact.”

The company’s nearest operational solar farm is in Walnut Springs, in Bosque County, and has a 5-megawatt capacity, Wilson said. The company did not provide an estimate of the Robinson plant’s production capacity.

The site will generate “almost no traffic.” After construction, it will require only a few trips per week for routine maintenance, according to the application.

The proposed solar farm would be enclosed with a 6-foot-high, wooden fence for security purposes.

“Solar farms make good neighbors,” the application states. “They are quiet. The only sound occurs during daylight hours with the quiet hum of trackers following the sun, as well as the electrical transformers, inverters and the substation delivering solar power to the power grid. At night, when the sun is not available, there is no energy being created and no sound on the site. Solar panels are designed to absorb light, rather than reflect it, which mitigates glare concerns for adjoining properties.”

During their meeting Tuesday, county commissioners scheduled a public hearing for June 20 on a proposal to designate a county reinvestment zone that includes more than 50 acres where Cypress Creek hopes to build. Snell said the move is the first step in allowing for tax abatement agreements to support the project.

“It’s a great use for the land, and we’re looking forward to getting them started,” Snell said.

Cassie L. Smith has covered county government for the Tribune-Herald since June 2014. She previously worked as a reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise and The Eagle in Bryan-College Station. Smith graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Recommended for you