Jeff Davis will hold public hearing on tax break for proposed solar farm

Published 3:51 pm Thursday, July 4, 2024

The Jeff Davis Parish Police Jury is calling for a public hearing to be set to consider a tax break incentive being sought for a proposed solar farm project in Topsy.

Police Jury President Steve Eastman this week asked that a letter be sent to Cajun Crossroad Energy and the Louisiana Economic Development (LED) requesting a public hearing be held within 45 days.

Cajun Crossroad Energy is seeking an industrial tax break for construction of a solar farm under the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP). The ITEP program provides property tax breaks to qualifying industries for 5-10 years.

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“…We’ll have to hold a hearing, but the way the governor has structured this now, the police jury president, the school board either president or superintendent and sheriff will form an ITEP committee,” Eastman said. “So we (committee) will meet and discuss it, but I’m not going to make a decision without the police jurors knowing what this is about.”

Eastman said the police jury could not do anything with the ITEP request, act to hold a public hearing or deny the request.

“I felt like we are not going to deny it right off,” he said. “We want to hold a public hearing and get some public comments.”

Plans for the project include a $440 million solar farm spanning across nearly 2,000 acres of existing pine tree plantations in rural sections of Jeff Davis and Calcasieu parishes. About 400 acres of the project will be located south of Cormier Road in the northwest edge of Jeff Davis Parish.

The project is anticipated to generate $87 million in new tax revenues for the two parishes, as well as the state, over a 30-year projected lifespan of the project. The money could be used by the local government to support local schools, roads and other infrastructures.

However, the company is asking Jeff Davis to surrender $617,000 annually in property taxes over the next 10-years while Calcasieu would give up nearly $726,000 annually in exchange for the company’s investment in the parishes.

Construction on the solar farm is expected to begin next year with operations underway by late 2026.