The Aledo ISD Board of Trustees met in a special session last Friday, Dec. 16, finalizing approval for the Chapter 313 Value Limitation Application as part of a proposal that could see a $3.7 billion solar panel facility erected on Walsh Ranch.
Following several months of coordination with the Texas State Comptroller, the Parker County Economic Development Council, and the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, the board passed the measure unanimously.
Perhaps the most significant piece of information to come out of the meeting was the revealing of the mystery company on the receiving end of the proposal. The 1,100 acres of ranch land situated to the north of I-20 and south of I-30 east of Aledo is the prospective future home to Hanwha Q Cells Americas Holding Corporations’ second U.S.-based solar panel manufacturing facility.
“This is an opportunity for us to support our community in engaging in economic development and creating the opportunities for a corporation to want to be here,” said Aledo ISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Bohn following the meeting. “It’s opportunities for jobs. It’s opportunity for value in our system in all of east Parker County. It could be, hopefully, the start of getting more commercial development in the district.”
Q Cells is also considering locations in South Carolina and Georgia, where its flagship U.S. manufacturing facility sits in Dalton.
A second site in DFW was also being considered. However, the board was informed that deal fell apart prior to the meeting on Friday when Dallas ISD revoked their proposal due to disagreements on future tax receipts with neighboring school districts.
The proposal set forth by AISD will limit the tax value for maintenance and operations (M&O) purposes to $80 million annually. Meanwhile, the portion of the project designated for interest and sinking (I&S) purposes will remain fully taxable if the proposal is accepted by Q Cells.
Should the company accept the offer to build the new facility on Walsh Ranch, the district will not experience any loss in tax revenue as state revenue will make up the difference.
“Right now the vast majority of the burden for all of the infrastructure that we need as a community — which includes school infrastructure, but also roadways, and water, and waste water — is on the local, individual homeowner,” Bohn detailed. “When we diversify our tax base then there’s an opportunity to spread that burden.”
With the approval of the proposal by the board on Friday, the offer will be sent to Q Cells as the district awaits the company’s decision.
“We see this from the value standpoint, but we also see it from the opportunity standpoint,” Bohn said. “We want there to be jobs here. We like our students. We’d like our students to graduate and have the opportunity to work here at home in east Parker County. So, we see this as hopefully a step forward in that, if this all does work out.”
Who is Hanwha Q Cells?
Hanwha Q Cells was founded in 1999 in Thalheim, Germany, known then simply as Q Cells. Early in its inception the company sought to revolutionize solar panel technology to make panels more efficient and cost-effective.
Still hemorrhaging losses suffered during The Great Recession of 2008, Q Cells filed for bankruptcy in 2011. Just a few months removed from bankruptcy, the Hanwha Group — a South Korean business conglomerate — purchased Q Cells in August 2012. The original headquarters in Thalheim is still home to the company’s engineering offices.
Since 2012 Q Cells has expanded its global reach with manufacturing facilities in Qidong, China; Cyberjaya in Malaysia; two facilities in South Korea located at Eumseong and Jincheon; and the lone facility in America residing in Dalton, Georgia.
Q Cells has become the world’s largest manufacturer of photovoltaic solar panels. The company increased total sales to $60.6 billion in 2021 up from $55.8 billion in 2020. The company expects sales to top $66.3 billion in 2022 according to the company website.
According to the company website, Q Cells solar panels have an average lifespan of 25 years in real world conditions.
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