As Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, the legislature, and our Congressional delegation address oil and gas issues and the potential economic impact of President Joe Biden’s fossil fuel policy, alternative energy options and options are important. We are not going to lose our oil and gas status anytime soon, but we know that the shift to other energy sources is imminent.
That makes alternative energies economically feasible even in an oil and gas producing country.
Agree or disagree with Biden’s plans – including limiting drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, delaying offshore leasing, and mapping underground oil and gas reservoirs in a less intrusive way – at least we know something about what the president does does and how the governor and others react.
It is worrying that large, large-scale solar projects are quietly winding their way through the state Department of Natural Resources without much public attention.
It was not before attorney reporter Kristen Mosbrucker filed a public record application to inform the public about significant projects. While there is still no certainty as to the feasibility of these efforts, it is important that we know who is planning what, where, and how it will benefit taxpayers. The exemptions from property tax under applicable state law are generous and extend to up to 10 years.
Although most of these projects are aimed at private property in rural areas, we believe that the public deserves more information as each project seeks government and local support with economic incentives. Technically, everyone was open by being included in the public business development portal. But the site is not user-friendly. Legal but obscure company names are listed, rather than the names the companies use in doing business.
The state trade and industry committee has long been a stamp of tax breaks, but more questions are being raised about it now – and the board approved 10-year tax break contracts for solar parks after previously voting to suspend new incentives. Some of the utility-scale solar projects were criticized at this year’s legislature session.
Seven planned solar project agreements require a joint investment of $ 1 billion. There is a chance that one or more of these projects will not be built, but the shift to alternative energy sources makes them better business prospects than in the past. Leasing private land is speculative, but the financial consideration for selling the electricity it produces would be worth it.
The latest plans will double the number of solar power projects planned in Louisiana to more than a dozen.
State records show that previously unknown projects seeking economic incentives include three in the St. James Parish parish of Vacherie and one each in Thibodaux, Bogalusa, Singer and Franklinton. The projects would support hundreds of construction jobs, but would only create a handful of permanent jobs once completed.
Proposed projects include Kontiki Holdings LLC, which is planning a $ 145 million project in Beauregard Parish; Bogalusa West PV I LLC Plans $ 200 Million Project in Bogalusa; Thibodaux Solar Project LLC Plans $ 200 Million Project in Lafourche Township; a $ 56 million project in Washington Parish; Vacherie Solar Energy Center Plans $ 89 Million Project; St. James Solar III LLC is planning a $ 100 million project in Vacherie and St. Jacques Solar LLC is planning a $ 134 million project in Vacherie.
The public deserves more information about utility-scale solar parks in the midst of such a significant shift in energy sources that are helping to boost our state’s economy.