From Acquisition to Abatement Approval: the Limewood Solar Success Story

Located outside of Temple, Texas in Bell County, Pine Gate Renewable’s Limewood project will supply approximately 204 megawatts (MW) of cost-effective and reliable solar power to the Texas grid.  

Bell County is in the heart of Central Texas and is no stranger to solar developments in the area. With numerous renewable energy projects in development, County leadership and community members are very familiar with this type of project and have constructively approached new projects with questions and concerns on the potential impacts to their community. 

As a new company coming into Bell County acquiring the Limewood project from the previous owner, it was important that Pine Gate manage a smooth transition. The team needed to establish its own relationships with the community, work to ensure the community and county leaders know who Pine Gate is, and raise awareness of Pine Gate’s best-in-class approach to developing and constructing the Limewood Solar project. 

“One of Pine Gate’s top priorities is being a good neighbor in the communities where we have projects, and we are dedicated to listening to community feedback, understanding the concerns and values of our neighbors, and being a good community partner for the long-term,” noted Brian Munger, Pine Gate’s Project Manager on Limewood. “While the Limewood project will deliver a substantial investment to Bell County through construction investment, new taxes, and landowner payments over the life of the project, and create more than 300 construction jobs and be a boost for local businesses during construction, we understood that there were more localized concerns that would need to be addressed and a level of trust established with the community early on.” 

Community Engagement through a Tax Abatement Process 

The previous owner of the Limewood project established a tax abatement agreement with Bell County. As project timelines shifted with the acquisition process, Pine Gate needed to amend the abatement agreement with the County, a process which requires multiple public hearings at the Commissioner’s Court and an approval process with the County Judge and presiding County Commissioners. 

As the tax abatement is mutually beneficial from a financial perspective — with the county receiving a predictable Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) payment over 10-years — the process also enabled Pine Gate to better understand community questions and work with county leadership to mitigate concerns utilizing the abatement agreement. 

The Pine Gate team worked closely with the County Judge and the Commissioner presiding over the precinct where the project is located to address issues related to road use during construction, water management, stormwater drainage, safety and environmental protocols, and local labor sourcing outreach. By establishing specific guidelines in the abatement agreement around these topics, Pine Gate was able to highlight its best-in-class practices that it brings to each of its projects while establishing a level of transparency and trust with County leadership and address priority issues important to their local constituents and county well-being. The public hearing process also allowed Pine Gate to hear from local citizens and organizations and speak directly to questions raised in real-time. As a result, this assisted the Pine Gate team in having greater involvement with local entities like the Clearwater Underground Conservation District and the Elm Creek Watershed Authority. 

As a result of the diligent work and engagement with County leadership, the Limewood abatement agreement received a favorable vote in January 2024 and was a positive step forward for the project in Bell County, TX. 

“I am greatly appreciative to the leadership of Bell County for their willingness to engage with us on the Limewood project and the positive steps we have taken together that ultimately help us be a good community partner for the long-term with Limewood,” Munger concluded. “Our team is looking forward to engaging with the community more in the coming months, building new relationships, finding ways to support the community in new ways and ultimately delivering a successful project that will support Texas’ growing energy demand.”