By Julie Johansen
At the last meeting of the Emery County Community Reinvestment Agency (CRA), the bylaws were amended to include three more members. These new members, Jessy Johansen representing the Emery School District, Jay Mark Humphrey with the Emery Water Conservancy District and Jacob Sharp from the Castle Valley Special Service District (CVSSD), were invited to the recent CRA meeting. These are all taxing entities within Emery County and will be directly affected by the actions of the CRA.
An overview for the Castle Solar Project was the first item on the agenda for the Emery County Community Reinvestment Agency on Tuesday. The Enyo Energy Company is proposing a solar project west of Huntington. With most of the permits in hand and plans underway for construction, Enyo is requesting a 40 percent tax incentive. The total revenue from these acres for the next 20 years in their present status would be $2,473, but with this solar project, the projected total tax revenue for 20 years would be $1,800,000.
Stuart Clayson, Emery County Consultant from Utah Association of Counties (UAC), explained the reasons for the need of a tax incentive for Enyo Energy. He stated that because of the smaller size of production, producing only 40 megawatts, and less sunlight in the area than other terrain, makes a tax incentive necessary to be cost effective. Humphrey discussed flood control (sediment ponds) and easement to the canal in the intended areas. Construction traffic though Huntington and around residences in the area were also considered. When questioned about the timeline, Enyo representatives responded that they hope to have commercial operation by 2021 with construction beginning in the middle of 2020. A motion to move forward was made and approved with the abstention of Chairman Lynn Sitterud because he has leased land to this company.
The commission then gave an update on the San Rafael Energy Research Center. This center, located in the former Central Warehouse west of Orangeville, was purchased by Emery County and renovation has been proceeding for more than six months. The building is being reconstructed for a thorium nuclear research center and would produce medical isotopes used worldwide. The shed east of the main building has been closed in to be used as a coal combustion plant. The coal testing equipment was secured from the University of Utah with the help of USU Eastern. The area east of the structures will be used for more energy development.
This center will lead to a vast amount of economic development for the county. Emery County is the landlord, but it will be managed by the Seven County Infrastructure Coalition. Many of the institutions of higher learning are involved with the center, such as University of Utah, Utah State University and USU Eastern. $2.6 million was obtained from a Community Impact Board grant and Senator David Hinkins was also able to secure an additional million dollars for this investment. There is also hope for securing more funding for the research center. Infrastructure is becoming available, including easy access for water, power and natural gas lines being installed.