Black Mississippi residents in this former casino town are looking forward to a greener future.
According to NBC News, the citizens of Tunica County are preparing for the first utility-scale wind farm in the state with Amazon heading the development.
A Wind Farm In Mississippi
“My first initial thought was: ‘A wind farm in Mississippi?'” Marilyn Young, the director of Tunica County Workforce Development Center, said.
Despite reservations, Young soon learned that not only could the farm’s huge turbines weather the sometimes dangerous storms that affect those living in the area, but it will also provide hundreds of jobs in construction to bring the project to fruition.
What’s more, aside from the clean energy the wind farm will bring, Young is hopeful that the money in property taxes, an estimated $60 million, can provide the public school system with the resources needed to propel students to success.
After the departure of a large casino that drove the economy, the county was met with financial challenges.
With the wind farm project, a Virginia-based energy company, AES, will sell power to Amazon. In turn, Tunica residents anticipate enough electricity to run more than 80,000 homes by early 2024.
“Accepting this project here could move us to another level,” James Dunn, a member of the Tunica County Board of Supervisors, said.
If everything goes according to the plan, a huge financial break is underway for those living in the community housed in the Mississippi Delta.
However, on the other hand, some city leaders, including the former road manager of the county, don’t think Tunica’s decision to approve a decade-long tax break for the project is the best decision.
“I really don’t think that was a wise move for us,” said Joe Eddie Hawkins, who now serves on the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Levee District Board.
The tax break in question will allow AES to pay a third of the property taxes it would typically owe.
An Anticipated Win For The County
AES Senior Development Director Terrance Unrein shared that tax incentives are common for clean energy projects and doubled down on the fact that the project will bring in “tens of millions of dollars to the taxing districts over the life of the project.”
Per Charles Finkley Jr., president and CEO of Tunica County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development, the land where the wind farm will be built would have only brought in roughly $20,000 in taxes over three decades, a significantly lower amount than the anticipated $60 million from the new deal.
He also expressed excitement about what a greener community will do for an area that has been plagued with economic challenges.
“These types of projects are not going to come in and solve all the problems with our communities,” Finkley said. “But it’s a start. It’s a start and a step in the right direction.”
It’s only a matter of time before residents and community leaders get a chance to witness the effects of this wind farm project for themselves as many are counting on its benefits for years to come.