Construction of Chester town solar farm expected to begin by fall

Luke Shullenberger

Luke Shullenberger

By Cynthia Prairie

Construction of a 500-kilowatt solar farm on Chester town land should begin by this fall, according Luke Shullenberger of Green Lantern Capital of Waterbury, the developer of the project, with completion in eight to 10 weeks from start.

The project, slated for a 5-acre Jeffrey Well parcel at Route 103 North and Trebo Road, is to be financed, built and maintained by Green Lantern, with the town having the option to buy the solar farm at the end of a 20-year term.

In an interview Tuesday afternoon, Shullenberger said the timetable at this point is “being driven by the Certificate of Public Good and Public Service Board.” The Certificate of Public Good is issued by the PSB and will allow the project to get off the ground. But, Shullenberger added, the PSB is facing a heavy work schedule this coming year.

Two other parties are expected to join Chester government in the electricity savings: Green Mountain Union High and Chester-Andover Elementary schools.

The project was approved by the Chester Select Board in December 2013 after more than a year of meeting with prospective project developers and in executive sessions to discuss the proposals.

In the end, Green Lantern remained the last developer standing after delivering more complete plans than the others. The select board and the company then went into extended contract discussions behind closed doors over a period of months. At times it appeared that the select board – at least several members – had soured of the project, but then in December it was approved with one nay vote.

“It’s truly a Chester community solar project.”

Luke Shullenberger
Green Lantern Capital

Under the contract, Green Lantern will pay $6,500 in taxes and $6,000 in rent and the town would see between $5,000 to $5,500 in savings on its electric bill. Two other parties are expected to join in the savings, Shullenberger said. He met last Friday with the school boards of both Green Mountain Union High and Chester-Andover Elementary. Both, he said, were enthusiastic about the project. “It’s truly a Chester community solar project,” he said.

Although no money changes hands, the three parties – town government and the two schools – “buy into” the project to reap the savings on their electric bills, getting discounted net-metering credits that will discount their electric bills by about 15 percent.

When the select board approved the contract in December, it asked that town attorney Jim Carroll review the contract for “any red flags.” On Tuesday, town manager David Pisha said that none were found.

The contract also stipulates that Green Lantern will have to repair any damage done to the sensitive town property, which currently is home to a small pine tree farm. Pisha said the town wasn’t anticipating any damage but wants Green Lantern to “be mindful of how they do things.”

He added that the three town government entities that will benefit from the solar arrangement are Town Hall, the Town Garage and the Sewer Department, which runs 24 hours a day.

 

 

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 30 years. She has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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