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Solar Resolution with Background

Congregational Resolution Approving the Lease of Land for a Solar Power Production Facility

Called Annual Congregational Meeting of Abingdon Episcopal Church

January 31, 2021

 

Resolved,that at a properly noticed Annual Meeting of Abingdon Episcopal Church in White Marsh, VA (Abingdon) on January 31, 2021, the congregation hereby approves of the leasing of approximately 76 of Abingdon’s real property identified in Gloucester County records as Tax Map 39-131 and of approximately 10 acres being the northern portion of Tax Map No. 130, adjoining the northwest portion of Tax Map No. 131, which basically forms a rectangle when the northern-most existing east-west plat boundary line between Tax Map Nos. 39-130 and 39-130A is extended westerly to the north-south plat boundary line between Tax Map No. 39-130 and Tax Map 129., to TGE Virginia 195, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company for the purpose of constructing and operating a solar power production facility, and hereby instructs the Trustees and the Vestry to pursue such actions, including the entering into contracts and obtaining such further approvals, as may be necessary or advisable as determined by the Vestry in order to effectuate such lease.

Background

As you are aware from previous communications and the Question and Answer presentation on our website, Abingdon was approached by TGE Virginia 195, LLC (“TGE”), concerning our interest in entering into a lease of 2 parcels of our land for use as a solar power production facility, often referred to as a solar farm.  After initial discussions began last August, and after parishioner contacts by the Vestry members, the Vestry decided that we should explore the possibility.  Several concerns were raised.  No one wanted to be able to see solar panels from our beautiful, historic church or its grounds.  What protections would we have if TGE or the operator went out of business?  The facility should operate in an environmentally responsible manner.

I believe we have negotiated an agreement that addresses our concerns and that gives us the benefit of a stream of income for up to 45 years.  I will also say that having done a lot of commercial negotiations over the years, TGE was one of the most reasonable parties with whom I have dealt. 

TGE says property owners of over 1,000 acres have committed to this project.

NOTABLE LEASE TERMS

SIGHT BUFFERS.  We have provided for sight buffers of undisturbed vegetation of up to 200’ east of the church and cemetery.  but on a walkabout by Vestry members of that property after leaves had started to fall, it seemed that perhaps a 100’ would be sufficient.  If mutually agreed upon by the Vestry and TGE, the buffer can be adjusted.  TGE has undertaken to plant trees, on our property, on the north end of our property where the timber was harvested a year ago ($32,000), and also on the south end ($8,000).  Any transmission lines must be unobtrusive and beyond the 200’ buffer.

OPERATIONS, DECOMMISSIONING AND CLEAN UP.  The Tenant must operate with respect for the environment and dispose of operating, cleaning or repair items off of the property.   Tenant must also remove from the Site, within 180 days after operations, everything they have installed above and below the ground and restore the property to a condition as good as or better than its original condition.  They will also post a bond, cash, letter of  credit with a federally-insured bank or entity in the amount of $10,000 per megawatt produced on our property, which should be about $110,000.  Should Gloucester County, as a condition of their Conditional Use Permit, obtain a higher monetary commitment, then that higher amount and fund would be for the benefit of Abingdon.   

INSURANCE.  Commercial general liability insurance, commercial auto, worker’s compensation and employers liability insurance with limits not less than $1 milion during the development, property investigation period, and during the construction and operation the limits for such insurance is to be $5,000,000 per occurrence and $10,000,000 in the aggregate, with Abingdon as an additional insured evidenced by endorsement or policies.

RENT.  TGE and their consulting environmental engineers have concluded an early environmental assessment, primarily to delineate wetlands on our and neighboring large tracts.  They have not met with the Corps of Engineers.  TGE believes from the work of their consultants that they would be able to use about 75% of the 88 acres proposed to be leased, or about 66 acres.  The buffer east of the church would be about 4 acres with a 100’ buffer, or about 8 acres with a 200’ buffer.  Rent is $800 per acre per year, except buffer areas which are $200 per acre per year.  Thus, annual revenue with a 100’ buffer would be about $50,400, and with a 200’ buffer it would be about $48,000.

GENERALLY.  While numerous other changes were made to improve Abingdon’s position in some manner, they were improvements in provisions commonly found in commercial leases and which are not unduly burdensome upon Abingdon