The proposed Appleseed Solar solar field has received an economic development agreement with Cass County.

On Friday, the Cass County Council approved a tax abatement plan for the field after a public hearing on the matter.

The abatement plan calls for 10 years of a 100% abatement for real and personal property.

Resident Lora Redweik asked if that included any depreciation of equipment.

Jason Semsler of accounting and consulting firm Baker Tilly of Indianapolis said that was taken into account and is figured in to start after five years.

In November, Greg Balsano of Baker Tilly told council members that Appleseed would save $17 million with the abatement.

However, Appleseed will pay more than $27 million in taxes over the same time period, he said.

Appleseed representatives have also told the county that they will make $9.3 million in five payments to Cass County.

The money can be used for anything that improves quality of life in Cass.

Appleseed is part of the alternative energy company NextEra Energy.

The council asked Matthew Johnson, senior project manager for development with NextEra, to clarify how much land the project will use.

Johnson said the project would be 1,200 acres, on which 400 acres would have solar panels.

The rest would be for equipment, setbacks and buffer zones between the solar field and neighboring property.

The original preliminary plans that Next Era presented this June at the Walton Community Center called for 1,200 to 1,600 acres.

Johnson said that the company was leaving room to look at the best design for the solar farm.

According to the website for Appleseed, the “project encompasses approximately 2,000 acres.”

Plans presented before to residents have included landscaping between the solar farm and neighbors.

Redweik also had concerns about the area being designated as an Economic Revitalization Area (ERA).

Reading from state law, she said that an ERA is land that is undesirable or undevelopable.

Attorney Rich Hall of Barnes and Thornburg of Indianapolis said that county officials had designated all of Cass as an ERA years ago.

“This project qualifies as an ERA,” he said.

Councilman Dave Redweik was the sole vote against that abatement. Councilmen Grover Bishop and Dean Davenport were not present.
© 2022 Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.