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Milam County Considers Power Plant

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A multi million dollar power plant is poised to be built in Milam County.

But the energy company is asking for a hefty tax break from the county, and some commissioners and residents aren't too happy about it.

The idea of a new $900 million power plant makes sense to county commissioners.

An expanded tax base and economic boom are sure to follow.

But in return Constellation Energy Group wants a 75 percent tax abatement for 10 years.

"The real key is whatever is done abatement wise or not, if Constellation is built here there's no doubt it would be a tremendous windfall to local taxpayers," said County Judge Frank Summers.

With the abatement, it's anticipated Milam county would receive about $3 million in new tax revenue.

That means residents would enjoy a lower tax rate.

But the idea of letting the plant "off the hook" so to speak, has some residents fuming.

"The tax abatement is the main issue because Milam County has been conservative in the past," said Judge Summers.

Most residents aren't against the power plant being located in Milam County.

They just feel a 75 percent abatement is too generous.

"I welcome Constellation to our community with open arms. But I don't welcome them with an open check book," one resident told commissioners.

Baltimore-based Constellation Energy Group has 37 plants across the country.

Building in Rockdale, near the Alcoa plant would be mutually beneficial because it can purchase lignite from Alcoa, and in return Alcoa will purchase power from Constellation.

"We look at it from a business perspective. We want to be competitive and in order for us to build a power plant there's no sense in building a power plant if we can't produce the energy at a competitive market rate," said Kevin Thornton of Constellation Energy Group.

Construction will take four years and bring more than a thousand workers to the area.

Commissioner Burke Bauerschlag says that will drain the county's resources.

"During construction I'm concerned about the impact on our sheriff's department, schools, emergency services and so on," said Bauerschlag.

Whatever their choice, commissioners will have to make a decision soon with construction scheduled to start in September.

Milam County officials will meet with Constellation Energy representatives Tuesday.

The deadline for the county to make a decision is August 15th.