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Energy company in the process of constructing solar power plant in Grimes County

Posted at 9:58 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 22:58:20-04

Energy company Enel Green Power is in the process of constructing a solar power plant and battery power storage system in Grimes County. Operations will begin at the plant, south of Iola, by the end of this year.

Known as the Blue Jay Solar + Storage Project, the structure will pair a 270 MW solar PV plant with a 59 MW battery storage system.

Navasota-Grimes County Chamber of Commerce executive director Johnny McNally says the plant will be located between the towns of Iola and Carlos.

"Why they chose Grimes County; I have a feeling it has to do with proximity to the power grid that’s already in place, that they can tie into quickly," McNally said. "It’s part of the growth triangle that we’re a part of, from Dallas to Houston, to Austin.”

The plant will be located on property leased from local agricultural landowners.

McNally said that while the plant won’t be bringing more than a small handful of jobs to the area, it could bring as much as $7 million in tax revenue to the county over the next few decades.

“We had some issues back in February with the power grid that kind of illustrates there are some deficiencies that need to be addressed for power in this area," said McNally. "[That's] especially if there’s going to be growth in population with business and industry moving in this direction."

This power plant will not necessarily be locating energy for Grimes County residents; at least not directly so.

Instead, McNally said, the energy will be sold to a customer who will transfer that energy to the state’s power grid.

Robert Pena, project developer with Enel, spoke before the Grimes County Commissioner’s Court in January, in order to introduce the company to the local area.

“Our development group is developing along the east coast, in the central United States from Chicago to the Midwest, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, presently Virginia and the New York market," Pena said. "And it is prepared to continue making a big step forward in the state of Texas.”

In that meeting, Pena said that his company will be committed to making a road maintenance agreement for the area.

Additionally, McNally said that Enel plans to set up the plant in a way that, visually, does not disturb the adjacent landowners.