Intersect Power’s Tax Abatement Request Approved by County Commissioner’s Court


Today, the long awaited decision regarding the tax abatement requests submitted by Intersect Power (IP) for the proposed Meitner Project finally came to its conclusion.

Three out of the four commissioners, Hudson, Arrington and Baggerman. voted for the proposed agreement with one commissioner, Haley, not in favor, thereby approving the agreement.

Every bench in the courtroom was packed with citizens both for and against Intersect Power moving forward with their solar panel and hydrogen plant plans-and the divide within the room was clearly evident.

Judge Porter started the meeting with the public hearing and went through every name on the list who requested to speak, many having attended meetings regarding IP’s Mietner project since November.

A gentleman by the name of Mark who works at the dairy farm was the first to speak.

He brought up the issue of potential fires caused by the hydrogen plant and if there would be any sort of training or on-site resources provided if needed.

While he said that he’s not against any new technologies, he did emphasize that everyone should have a choice to partake in those new technologies and not be forced by the government or corporations.

He also gave a brief history of private investments in projects that took a negative and devastating toll in his home country of the Netherlands.

“They found themselves in a depression that they hadn’t seen before and over time, it crumbled the mold of society,” he said.

“I am here to serve as a warning: while you still can-stay away from dirty money. By all means necessary, eliminate even the remote possibilty of it.”

Next to speak was Andrew Morris, a life-long Gray County resident and business owner.

“I think Gray County is one of the best counties in the state of Texas,” he said.

He spoke about the divide between government regulation between regular citizens and corporations.

“As an electrician by trade, I’m heavily regulated by what I can and cannot do. If I had a spill, I would get wrote up, have a fine, and I’d lose my livelihood if I did the wrong thing. But what about the regulations on solar, wind, and hydrogen? Who around here can maintain that? Who’s going to fund it? History shows that when these companies come in, they sell it to somebody else and then they sell it to somebody else.”

The next person to speak was Sena Brainard who spoke about the tax abatement itself.

“I’m against any abatement in this county after listening to the budget meetings. If you’re doing a tax abatement and are having discussions about it and not providing services, then why are y’all doing the tax abatements to a company that is trying to come in that will gradually be over in ten years? They should be taxed at the full amount just like everybody else.”

Steve Martin was the next to speak and his first question was: “Why the rush?”

“We have a presidential election taking place this year and with the new administration, new green energy projects could be on the chopping block,” he said.

“Intersect, I feel, is in a rush to have the abatement passed so they can have their investors in place before policy changes can take effect.”

“Why are you voting for this abatement before the agreement between the city and Intersect has been finalized? This is putting the cart before the horse.”

Justin Holman was the next speaker with nine minutes due to other citizens giving their allotted time to him.

“Hebrews Chapter 13 Verse 5: He who lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “never will I leave you, never will I forsake you,” he began.

“I know this land very well. From my construction expertise, I know the challenges Intersect will face and will have to overcome to complete and operate this project.”

He asked the questions such as how much hydrogen would be stored on-site at any given moment and how much water the plant would need to operate.

He mentioned the amount of water that Hidden Hills uses accompanied with the water that Intersect would need for the hydrogen plant would not be viable, as aquifers are being depleted throughout the US.

He also listed the chemicals associated with solar panels and the potential of rain water washing those harmful chemicals into local water sources, as well as the heat that radiates from the panels.

“I’m part of the large group of landowners and citizens that are actively fighting this project. This is just one of our many battles ahead.”

“We as farmers and ranchers have a responsibility to be good stewards of the land. Saying yes to this project is not.”

Jamie Greene was next to speak.

“Just so y’all know, I don’t have any facts, so mostly what I have is from the heart and the heritage of my family’s legacy,” she said.

She told the court that her family has had their land for 111 years and Red Deer Creek runs right through the 310 acres.

“I don’t think I have enough information like the other people in this room, and I do apologize for that. But what it does affect on my family’s 111 year-old land is the wildlife and our livestock. We have to preserve our Ogalala aquifer.”

She also presented to the court the contract with the federal government concerning the conservation of the wildlife habitat zone.

“I come before the court to please rethink this. Give it some more time and do more research to save our water in Gray County.”

Denise Howard, author of the petition to halt Intersect Power’s proposed solar and hydrogen plants, was next to speak.

Starting online on December 20, 2023, the petition accumulated nearly 600 signatures in less than a month, both online and in-person.

Judge Porter informed Denise that the petition could not legally be considered a valid petition and could only be considered as a letter of concern.

Denise spoke about the allocation of the tax abatements and questioned the entities that would benefit.

“I am sure this courtroom full of people would like to hear from you personally, Lake Arrington, Logan Hudson, Jeff Haley, John Mark Baggerman; in your own words, how will these projects benefit Gray County and its residents? If nothing else, please call for an action to postpone this vote so we can at least get more organized.”

Molly Linssen was next to speak, citing statistics of the harm that solar plant farms have had in the past on livestock and wildlife.

“Commissioners, are we taking an unnecessary risk to expose livestock and wildlife as well as many families who draw their water from the aquifer? Who will clean up the mess when contamination does happen?” she asked.

“Somebody mentioned earlier that companies get sold off to the next person and the next person, so that makes it very hard to make anyone actually responsible for a clean up.”

“I strongly urge you to vote no on this tax abatement.”

John Spearman was the next person to speak, expressing his concerns about the water supply that Intersect Power would need as well as the validity of IP being solely an American company.

“They’ve got a track record of selling to Japan. We welcomed Smithfield into Gray County when they came and then about five years ago, they sold to China. I don’t know if they received a tax abatement, but they should put some kind of stipulation on the abatement so they don’t sell to someone foreign.”

The final person to speak out against the tax abatement was Brandon Helms, who has property in the heart of the reinvestment zone.

Helms told the Judge and commissioners that neither he nor Justin Holman, who also has property in the zone, had been contacted by Intersect Power about their plans, even after both of them had brought up the issue in a previous meeting.

“My property was listed in the reinvestment zone and I was not notified by the county or by Intersect Power to this day. I feel like this hurried pace without the proper communication has been unacceptable,” he said.

“If this is such a great opportunity, why not educate the community of the impact this will have on all of us? You did the bare minimum.”

He also mentioned the concerns over the potential of hydrogen fires and the issue of safety and lack of resources, as well as the threat to wildlife.

“Are we prepared to add on to their responsibilities?” he asked, referring to the Hoover Volunteer Fire Department and Pampa Fire Department.

“All of these birds are supposed to be protected under the Migratory Bird Act. Has Gray County proposed the implementation of comprehensive local environmental surveys?”

He also raised the issue of property devaluation if the projects were approved.

“Has Gray County proposed a comprehensive impact assessment that includes a thorough analysis of the effects of property values?”

Another question raised was the conflict of interest between the judge and commissioners regarding Intersect Power, including owning property or family members owning property in the reinvestment zone.

Commissioner John Mark Baggerman did inform Helms that his sister did own property in the zone, but pursuant to the law, it showed no conflict of interest.

Those who spoke in favor of the tax abatement were Warren Chisum, Cortnie Patterson, Kayla Henry, Misty Auwen, Hugh Piatt, Eduardo Campos, Jason Bagwell, Matt Raines and Shane Stokes, all echoing the same sentiment of Intersect Power helping Gray County expand and grow while benefitting its citizens.

After everyone in attendance had nothing else to say, the vote was held.

Logan Hudson, Lake Arrington, and John Mark Baggerman voted in favor of the tax abatement with Jeff Haley in opposition.

Jeff Haley expressed his concerns that neither Brandon Helms nor Justin Holman had been notified by Intersect Power.

“For me today, and I’ve learned a lot-there’s two people that I learned about last night that I think would be more or less powerless. They’re more or less what I would classify as potential victims,” he said. “There was no notification.”

“What does that do to your value if your neighbors made a deal and you’re surrounded by development? So for me in my good conscience sitting here as a commissioner I can’t let those individuals be sacrificed on the altar of progress. That’s my two cents worth.”

Representatives from Intersect Power addressed a few of the concerns about the environmental impact of the proposed projects, stating that they were still in the process of conducting research and was unable to answer questions regarding the issue.

Commissioner Logan Hudson addressed the courtroom and said that he would vote based on the people who had reached out to him either for or opposed to the abatements.

“I stated before that I would vote with the majority of those who contacted me and gave me their opinion. Over this period of time I received 86 emails, texts, call, and messages. As that stands, 56 for and 30 against.”