New York-based energy company buys Gypsum’s biomass plant
Deal to sell plant to Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company resolves all litigation with the town
GYPSUM — The Eagle Valley Clean Energy Biomass Plant has a new owner.
On April 25, Utah-based Evergreen Clean Energy sold the biomass plant to New York-based Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company LLC, a publicly registered, non-traded company with more than 6,000 shareholders.
The company’s website states Greenbacker expects “to acquire a diversified portfolio of income-producing renewable energy power plants, energy efficiency projects, and other sustainable investments. ” Greenbacker owns and operates more than 350 megawatts of renewable energy assets throughout North America, representing more than $300 million of investments including 36 megawatts of solar projects in Colorado.
“This investment represented a very unique opportunity, from our point of view,” said Charles Wheeler, the CEO and president of Greenbacker.
While he declined to share the purchase price for the biomass plant, Wheeler said the investment represented a dollar amount that Greenbacker could afford.
“This opportunity also had a long-term supply arrangement for pine beetle-damaged and destroyed materials,” Wheeler said. “We at Greenbacker have a very clear mandate to invest in renewable energy and the elements here really appealed to us.”
In response to an inquiry about how the company learned about the Gypsum biomass plant opportunity, Wheeler noted that Greenbacker, as a company that invests and owns renewable energy infrastructure, is a niche business.
“People who own assets of that type can reasonably find us,” he said.
In terms of the company’s plan for the plant, Wheeler said it will be business as usual. He noted the plant will continue to provide stable employment for its current staff and the facility will continue its work to “address the horror of beetle kill.”
“Average investors own our company, and we are very much about being part of communities and working with communities to address issues such as pine beetle kill,” Wheeler said.
No more litigation
For several years, the Gypsum biomass plant has been embroiled in litigation, both with the construction company that built the facility and the town of Gypsum regarding a failed condemnation action. The April 25 sale ended that history between the plant and the town.
“With the closing of the sale, all outstanding issues have been resolved, including the dismissal and release of all claims and matters of litigation involving the biomass plant,” noted a statement issued by the town of Gypsum following the sale.
Gypsum officials noted that contingent to the sale, the biomass plant has already, or will within the next 30 days, be brought into compliance with all town permits and agreements. The town has received all outstanding payments and has released all liens held against the property.
Additionally, as part of the land-use agreement, Gypsum officials noted that Greenbacker has committed to donating approximately 13 acres of land on the north bank of the Eagle River to the town to be put back into open space use. Greenbacker representatives said the company also will be conducting a thorough analysis — to ensure that all land and easements necessary for the proper operation of the plant are in place — and will then work with the town on an additional 35-45 acre land donation.
“The town of Gypsum and Greenbacker are looking forward to working together on the land donation and building a strong and productive relationship that will benefit Gypsum and the community at large,” the town’s statement concluded.
Jim Hancock, assistant town manager and town engineer, said Gypsum first learned about the possible sale in late 2018.
“We are very relieved to be be done with the litigation,” he said.
Hancock added that Greenbacker representatives have assured town officials that the company is committed to the continuing success of the plant and in increasing its presence in the community.
“We are feeling optimistic. We are looking forward to having a reset on our relationship with the biomass plant,” Hancock said.
“This is a celebration of all our veterans have done for us,” said Pat Hammon with the local VFW Post, who served as a nurse in Vietnam. “It’s not a time for sadness.”