Company proposes to build new Solar Farm in Concordia Parish

Published 12:57 pm Thursday, November 16, 2023

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VIDALIA, La. — Next Era Energy Resources is looking at leasing 2,000 acres in Concordia Parish on which to build a new solar farm, giving the company its first foothold in Louisiana territory, spokesperson Rick Morley told police jury members during their Monday meeting.

The proposed land development is located off Louisiana Highway 900 and is mostly farmland.

The police jury had a public hearing Monday on a new ordinance to guide the solar farm project with details such as required drainage and a green fence buffer so that construction wouldn’t be an eyesore to parish residents.

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Police Juror Genesia Allen said the project is estimated to take about three years to build and is expected to remain in the parish for the next thirty years unless the property owners want to keep the development permanently.

Otherwise, it would revert back to farmland after the lifespan of the project.

Moreland said the Florida-based company currently has operations in 40 states and is proposing new solar farms in three Louisiana Parishes, including Concordia, which he said would benefit the parish with additional tax dollars.

However, Tax Assessor Jeanie Archer said during Monday’s hearing that the tax contribution that the company claims it will have “isn’t realistic.”

“You’re not actually bringing in $700,000,” Archer said. “The taxes that will be brought in are going to be the taxes that the landowner pays.”

Morley said the increase in tax contribution they anticipate is based off of models they have and how it would increase property value.

Archer explained that the State of Louisiana has not set any regulations with which to tax solar panels as it relates to added property value.

“You did tell me that you’re are applying for any exemption that you are able to receive,” Archer said. “So don’t say you’re bringing in $700,000 to our parish. That’s not realistic. … I can only go off the property’s current value and it’s only going to go from approximately $30 per acre to maybe $2,500 per acre.”

It’s also unclear what if any impact the solar farm would have on the cost parish residents pay for electricity since those rates are set by Entergy.

The farm would have no on-site employees, but would hire contractors locally to build the project, Allen said.

“I believe this can be beneficial to the parish,” she said.

The police jury passed the ordinance unanimously.

In other matters during Monday’s meeting, the police jury voted unanimously to advertise two other public hearings.

The first is on an ordinance to fulfill a state requirement by merging two of the voting precincts in Ferriday into one precinct at Ferriday City Hall.

The other public hearing is on adopting an ordinance to set a 5-ton weight limit on Moose Lodge Road.