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The MSB wants to lease 480 acres to a private company (Renewable IPP, LLC) for a massive Solar Farm project next to the Houston Middle & High School complex

This item is on the agenda of tonight’s Mat-Su Borough Assembly meeting (June 16, 2020). The MSB wants to sign a 32 year lease (with additional renewal options) with Renewable IPP, LLC, the small company that recently set up a large Solar Farm in Willow. This new Houston solar farm would be five times bigger than the Willow project. The lease starts at just $500 per month to the MSB and increases incrementally in the future.

Here is a map of the location of the MSB parcel, which is valued at $384,500.

A different view of the parcel showing the west side:

On their website, Renewable IPP, LCC, explains the plan:

For comparison, here is the company’s description of their (much smaller) Willow solar project:

Here is the company’s “Frequently Asked Questions” and answers about their proposed Houston project:

NOTE: Here is another question – Why is the MSB proposing a lease instead of a sale? This parcel is appraised at $384,500 [Further note: Is this appraisal legitimate? The MSB is valuing the land at just $802 per acre when other valuations of nearby parcels are much higher. See more at the end of this blog post comparing nearby parcels.] If the MSB sold the land, we would get the 384K (or much more!) plus we would still get the property taxes plus Houston would get the sales tax. We would also still get the “economic benefit” of a few jobs. Can anyone just ask the MSB to lease them land for a for profit project?

The MSB Staff is recommending that the Assembly approve the proposed lease.

There were a couple of nearby homeowners who had concerns. Also, the State DOT had concerns about the solar farm being in the way of a potential Parks highway bypass.

Here are more documents contained in the Informational Memo.

NOTE: The MSB is appraising the 479 acre lot at 384,500. (Or $802.71 per acre.) However, is this appraisal legitimate?

For comparison’s sake, here are sale listings for some lots (vacant land) in Houston. A 40 acre lot is listed at 70,000 (or $1750 per acre). A 127 acre lot is for sale for $395,000 ($3110 per acre).

Here are some MSB property tax assessments for vacant 40 acre parcels very close to the proposed solar farm’s 389 acre parcel:

The MSB assesses 40 acre parcels in this area at 120K – or $3,000 per acre!! Here are two of the nearby 40 acre parcels.

If the MSB were to sell the 479 acre lot at $3,000 per acre, the sale price would be: $1,437,000 or almost one and a half million dollars.