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Texas residents push back against solar plant construction

Some Texas residents are pushing back against the building of two solar power plants in their...
Some Texas residents are pushing back against the building of two solar power plants in their areas.
Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 6:19 AM CST
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TEXAS (KLTV) - Ever since winter storm Uri, discussions over the state’s power sources have been front and center. Several natural gas facilities have been working to construct power plants in Texas, but not everyone is on board.

Dozens of people living in Crawford, just half an hour west of Waco, raised concerns at a school district meeting about the company, OCI Solar Power, building facilities just outside the city. The company is based out of San Antonio, and it proposed a $115 million solar farm. A company official managing the project said the project will not cost the community any tax dollars if approved -- now it’s up to the school board to designate land as commercial property.

A farmer in Crawford said he’d been offered more money than he could make farming to sell his land to make way for construction, but said his neighbors, “would not be happy living next to a plant.”

A similar situation is happening in Southmayd near Texas’ border with Oklahoma. The school district board there voted to agree to a deal with Galactic Energy. The solar development company is proposing the construction of a 1,750 acre solar farm. Some residents there said they don’t want to lose the landscape and property they’ve lived on for generations. People raising their concerns are asking the school board to reconsider, and say they’re considering starting a petition against construction.

Meantime, supporters of the projects say adding solar plants like these help keep the power on during severe weather events like extremely hot summers and the winter blast last year.

Back in East Texas, two solar plant farms are set to go online sometime this year. One farm is near the Forest Grove area of Henderson county. The second is in northeast Ruck county, where the retired Oak Hill lignite mine used to be. These farms will be 200 Megawatt facilities -- meaning they could have the energy to generate enough power to turn the lights on in as many as 200,000 homes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, that’s enough to power all households in Nacogdoches, Smith, Angelina, Gregg, and Van Zandt counties.

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