County begins tax abatement process for Lodestar Energy


Matagorda County Commissioners approved the review process by accepting an application for tax group tax abatement application from Lodestar Energy during Monday’s meeting of commissioner’s court.

By accepting the application, this allows the county to start looking into the possibility of approving tax abatement for the company, which is looking to locate its business in Matagorda County.

According to Consultant Steven Manchester, Lodestar Energy is looking to place a $32 million dollar investment into a site in Matagorda County that would employ 10 full-time workers. 

“We believe we would be a great addition to this community,” Manchester said. “But we also realize that this needs to be a win-win for everybody.”

Lodestar Energy Group announced that a 227-acre site in El Maton had been chosen as a finalist location to build the South Texas Rail Terminal.

A decision from Matagorda County Commissioners granting tax abatement will be a critical factor in the company’s final site selection. Lodestar is seeking abatement over five years – 85-percent in the first two years; and 75-, 50- and 25-percent, respectively, over the last three years.   

“Our 227-acre terminal will be handling energy-related products resulting from the Texas Gulf Coast’s oil and gas exploration as well as its midstream and downstream manufacturing activities,” according to a letter to Commissioners from Lodestar’s President and CEO Brad Howell. “Initially, Lodestar’s South Texas Terminal will be focused on handling inbound and outbound rail traffic resulting from separate fractionation and storage facilities being considered in and around Matagorda County.”

The South Texas Rail Terminal will be a $32 million investment creating about 10 full time jobs. Positions employed at the facility will include field operators for loading, tank car movement and ancillary tasks earning about $60,000 annually; shift supervisors earning about $100,000; and a manager earning about $150,000.

The company hopes to break ground on the rail terminal in the first half of 2020 and become fully operational by the second quarter of 2021. 

“Similar to Air Liquide, this project adds critical infrastructure to the county that will benefit us as we work to recruit future industries,” said Mike Ferdinand, Matagorda County Economic Development Corporation executive director. “This project is a long-term investment in the county that would create quality, good-paying jobs.”

Lodestar Energy is a solar energy facility that began in 2014.  Jeffrey Macel and Jaime Smith co-founded Lodestar Energy and began assembling a team of experts with broad experience developing and financing energy projects. 

Their belief was that the combined knowledge of a multi-disciplinary organization would provide invaluable insights and solutions to other organizations. Their simple goal: to develop great solar energy projects that are environmentally, socially, and financially successful. 

Under their leadership, Lodestar has successfully developed and financed over $175 million and completed 30 solar projects in its first four years

Commissioners also approved setting and publishing of a public hearing concerning the establishment of a reinvestment zone for tax abatement purposes for Lodestar Energy Corp. The public hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 30 at 9:45 a.m.

In other county action, commissioners also accepted a contribution of a $150 gift card from Walmart that will be used towards expenses for the Matagorda County Household Hazardous Waste collection event to be held Oct. 19.

Commissioners also approved the nomination of David Cobb to placed on the ballot for the board of directors for the Matagorda County Appraisal District. A five-member board of directors is elected to serve on the district’s board. The process starts with the chief appraiser calculating the number of votes each voting entity has based on the 2018 tax levy.

Cobb currently represented Matagorda County on the board of directors.

Commissioners also approved an interlocal agreement between the county and the city of Palacios regarding the county’s contribution of $35,000 to assist in additional parking at the Palacios pavilion.

County Commissioner James Gibson said he would be taking these funds out of his budget so that the parking lot could be completed. 

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