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Barilla Solar Project Competes with West Texas Oil and Gas

The Barilla Solar Project in Pecos County is about two months from its official opening, becoming Pecos County’s first large-scale solar project.
The Barilla Solar Project in Pecos County is about two months from its official opening, becoming Pecos County’s first large-scale solar project.

“It's finally gotten to the point where the solar has become competitive enough from a price standpoint,” said John Lichtenberger, a senior manager of project development at First Solar, the company developing the project. “Competing with energy that's produced from a natural gas fired power project or even a coal fired plant.”

But it’s not just the price. Doug May, the economic development director for Fort Stockton and Pecos County said solar energy has the potential to be more reliable than oil and gas.

“We've been through many boom and bust cycles in the oil and gas industry and one thing about these renewable energy projects is their energy output is constant,” May said.

First Solar approached May and County Judge Joe Shuster, and together the group helped developed various tax incentives to establish the project west of Fort Stockton.

“We have wind energy here, we have oil and gas and we need to diversify and that was one of our goals to diversify as much as possible,” Shuster said.

A move they hope brings new technologies, jobs and opportunities to the county.

“When you're able to offer them jobs in technology related industries like the wind industry or the solar industry it makes it a lot easier to bring your best and brightest back to your community or to attract other young professionals to come in,” May said.

The Barilla Solar Project is the first of its scale in the area, but the county already has six other solar project contracts in the works.

“Once you get an industry with a foot hole in the area, it allows for other industries to come in,” May said.

The other six projects are expected to begin late 2014 or early 2015.


For a further look at the Barilla Solar Project tune in to your Local Big 2 News at 10 p.m. on July 6.

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