Appraisal of Route 103 solar farm kicks off Chester negotiations for purchase

An aerial view of the Route 103 solar farm in Chester, outline in red, from the appraisal by Gammal Real Estate.

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2023 Telegraph Publishing LLC

In a meeting that took just 30 minutes to complete, the Chester Select Board learned that an appraisal of the Route 103 solar farm has been completed and that the town is now in a position to begin negotiations to buy it from  its owner, Greenbacker Renewable Energy Co.

Part of the agreement to construct the solar farm back in 2014 included the option for any of the three organizations that buy electricity from the project to buy it after seven or 15 years.  2022 was the seventh year since the project went on line and, last March, the Select Board agreed that it should look into buying the solar farm. But it was not that easy.

A view of the solar farm from Route 103 taken by the Town of Chester.

The agreement with the original developer – Green Lantern – required the parties to get a third party valuation from an appraiser they would both agree on. The problem was that finding any appraiser was  difficult. But the town finally found Gammal Real Estate Service, which came back with a value of $1.075 million — higher than the $906,000 figure in the original contract, but much lower than Greenbacker’s asking price of $2.4 million.

“The next step is to get a counter-offer from Greenbacker and start the negotiation,” Town Manager Julie Hance told The Telegraph. Once a final price is reached, Hance said, it would be time to look at a detailed financial analysis that would include how the town would pay for the project and if it could make the purchase either budget neutral or even profitable.  The profit could come from income derived from the other two energy customers —  known as “offtakers.”  Those are the town of Pittsford and St. Johnsbury Academy.

Hance said she expects that once that analysis is done, the board can make a decision on whether to go ahead with the purchase and set up a bond vote for the public to weigh in on.

In past meetings, board member Lee Gustafson who owns a solar power installation company — has said that the farm could generate most — or possibly all — of the power needs of town government including the wastewater treatment plant.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Filed Under: ChesterFeaturedLatest News

About the Author:

RSSComments (1)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. Keith Stern says:

    So the town is even considering buying the solar farm for over a million dollars when the panels have most likely 1/2 its life remaining. Then who is going to pay to trash the panels? Also where does 67% of the energy come from when solar is only 33% efficient? The whole green energy deal gets more bizarre all the time.