The Sullivan County Commissioners continued to explore its options last week on rescinding a tax abatement for a solar farm project near Sullivan.
“We gave permission for Ann (county attorney Mischler) to contact the lawyer who was involved, Lou Britton, to see what procedures we need to go through to find out whether the tax abatement can be relinquished from them,” commissioners’ president Bob Davis said.
“Because we feel like they have not abided by the memorandum of understanding way back when we started this.”
Commissioner Ray McCammon made this in the form of a motion, which resulted in a 3-0 vote — joined in favor by John Waterman Sr. and Davis.
“Do we have any ideas if we have a leg to stand on?” McCammon asked. “Because we proposed a memorandum of understanding to the (county) council with our recommendations. I made it very plain to this company that they had to follow every step.”
If you recall, the commissioners approved Mischler in a similar motion at a September meeting to talk with Britton about the tax abatement options.
The council rescinded the abatement in their June meeting, stating Cypress Creek Renewables did not live up to a commitment to install more sophisticated solar panels that rotate with the sun, instead of the stationary panels. Another reason was alleged payment of lower construction wages than originally stated.
McCammon clarified one bone of contention mentioned in that council meeting.
“I do know there was a lot of discussion about the panels that follow the sun, but that was not included in the (original) memorandum,” he said.
“We may have talked about it, but it was not acted on,” Mischler agreed.
The council reversed course on its rescinding of the abatement in late July, due to not meeting a deadline to conduct a public hearing.
The original tax abatement was approved by a narrow 4-3 council vote in Feb. 2015. Cypress Creek Renewables actually completed the project in Sept. 2016, after the project was sold to them by juwi solar Inc., which had received the abatement.