They’re Building The State’s Largest Solar Energy Farm Out In West Texas

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Alexandra HartJanuary 19, 2018 12:23 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Construction has just begun in West Texas on what will ultimately be the state’s largest solar energy farm. It’s the latest sign of renewable energy’s continued growth in what’s traditionally been oil and gas country.

Houston Public Media’s Travis Bubenik reports that south of Midland in Pecos County, the Midway Solar Farm will make enough electricity from the sun to power about 50,000 homes annually.

Austin Energy is buying the power.

Pecos County Judge Joe Shuster says the new farm will add to about eight solar farms that have been built there.

“We opened our doors up roughly six to eight years ago for the first one to come in, and once the first one came in, the others started to follow,” he says.

And Shuster says the companies keep knocking.

“We’ve got one right now that’s talking to us that’s gonna be somewhere around 500 megawatts just in one farm alone,” he adds.

So could anything slow down this boom?

Federal tax credits are set to wind down in the coming years. And then there’s the constant balancing act of building out enough electric lines to handle the influx of new wind and solar.

The shortage has gotten a lot worse in the Panhandle just in the past year as new renewable projects come online, though some infrastructure upgrades happening this year should help ease the problem there.

The Midway Solar Farm is expected to be finished by the end of this year.

Bexar County’s cite-and-release policy for marijuana possession still hasn’t gotten off the ground.

It was set to go into effect last year but still hasn’t started, the San Antonio Express News Reports.

The policy would help people with minor marijuana offenses avoid jail time; penalties for being caught with small quantities of pot would be similar to a traffic citation.

District Attorney Nico LaHood announced the policy last September and said it would begin by the end of 2017.

DA spokesperson Leslie Garza told the Express News they’re still working with agencies to set up the program.

Bexar County is among several urban counties in the state to offer such a program. Dallas, Harris and Travis counties all have similar policies.

The Texas Ethics Commission is looking into whether a candidate for Dallas County Commissioner bribed an opponent to drop out of the race.

Former Garland City Council member Steven Stanley says that last October, J.J. Koch called him up and offered to pay Stanley to bow out. And Stanley taped the conversation:

“If you have any debts incurred by the campaign, I’m happy to write a check for that,” Koch offers.

Stanley declines the offer. “I’m good,” he says. “I appreciate the offer to pay off any debt and all that stuff, but I’m in this for the long haul.”

The Dallas Morning News reports that while Koch doesn’t dispute the content of the call, he says he was just trying to be gentlemanly and help out someone he says “clearly has major money issues.”