ECTOR COUNTY, Texas — The Permian Basin is known for its fossil fuels, but pretty soon it will be producing solar energy, too.
For the first time ever in Ector County, energy will not just be coming from deep underground-instead it will soon come from the sun.
“There’s a lot of sunshine, a lot of great weather in West Texas! So there’s a lot of interest in this particular time in Ector County and other counties around here,” said Wesley Burnett, director of Economic Development for Ector County Chamber of Commerce.
174 Power Global was able to break ground on the solar energy farm called Oberon on June 18 after the county granted the company tax abatements.
According to Burnett, the farm will generate about 150,000 megawatts of energy. That is enough to power 30,000 households.
The energy produced by Oberon will not just stay in the basin, it could potentially be transmitted to other areas across the United States.
“They will have different customers. Hopefully, the power stays in this area but it could be transmitted to other areas,” Burnett said.
“It’s good be a big part of all the energy factors and considerations for the U.S. We’ll always be the epicenter of the energy right here in Ector County and the Permian Basin, so just one more factor to make us better,” said Burnett.
The 5,000 acre solar farm will be located in western Ector County near Monahans.
Even if the energy does not stay here, the county will still see a big payoff.
Due to an agricultural exemption, the land the energy farm will be on was only making the county $1,200-$1,500. With Oberon up and running, the county will make thousands more.
“Once you put $150 million in it, even after depreciation, the long term investment will bring in several hundred thousand dollars into each entity,” Burnett said.
Some of those entities include Ector County ISD, Ector County Hospital District, Odessa College and Odessa Chamber of Commerce.
The solar farm will not only be profitable, it will propel Ector County into the future.
“I think it’s just a sign of the times,” Burnett said. “It’s not going to replace the oil and gas industry because that’s our main source of our economy, it’s just a diversification which is always positive.”
Construction on the farm is expected to take nine months. Burnett says if all goes as planned, it will be up and running in the first quarter of 2020.