According to former County Legislator of Genesee, Craig Yunker, residents of Byron and school districts in the county will benefit financially from future solar projects. Yunker stated that community solar energy will be among the sources bringing in a financial gain from the town. To generate any revenue, the town is entering a leasing agreement with the Excelsior Solar Project for a PILOT program.
In Yunker’s statement, he remains optimistic regarding the partnership between the town and Excelsior, stating that it will bring renewable energy to Genesee. With the community solar energy and other aspects of the PILOT program, residents of Byron and the Genesee school districts, including Byron-Bergen, will receive revenues from the leasing of more than 6,000 acres of farmland owned by CY Farms. Yunker serves as a managing partner for CY Farms and has opted to provide Excelsior a tax break in favor of a leasing agreement.
According to Yunker, charging taxes to Excelsior would risk the county and town not receiving the project. It wouldn’t provide NextEra, the parent company of Excelsior, any financial gain. Despite a push from several jurisdictions, the agreement includes full payments from Excelsior, which would remain tax exempt during its dealings in Genesee.
Though Yunker did not reveal what revenue the county and school districts would take in, it’s possible to look at community solar projects in Elba, Akron, and Pembroke school districts for a general figure. Based on the 22-megawatt projects across all three districts, the Town of Batavia, where Pembroke and Elba are located, would bring in over $1.1 million from three projects across 15 years. Pembroke is expected to see revenue of approximately $951,138 over 15 years from two projects.
The revenue for the town and financial benefit to residents is important to Byran, as Yunker explains, because the town isn’t big on industry. There is an estimated $1,000 to $1,500 per acre per year for the landowners being offered by Excelsior. Despite this, Yunker states, there has been some pushback from the community. Their biggest complaint, he says, is that building solar installations will alter the look of the town.
As Yunker explained, Excelsior will build the facility as to now ruin the visual appeal of Byron and will also remove all equipment at the end of the 25-year production period.