By Karen Brainard
If the latest target completion date for the Ramona Municipal Water District’s solar projects is met, it will be more than two years since the district paid $25,000 to reserve a rebate from the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE).
That $25,000 reservation fee is supposed to be refunded once the projects are completed, but CCSE’s California Solar Initiative’s incentive was set to expire on April 4, according to Alejo Lopez, manager of Siliken USA, the solar firm working with RMWD.
Lopez told board members that he had secured a 180-day extension from CCSE so the rebate would not be at risk.
In October 2011, the water district was targeting mid to late December for completion of the solar projects at the San Vicente and Santa Maria wastewater treatment plants. Weather and other delays pushed that back to late February.
Now the district is looking at a late May target date for completion.
Lopez said he was notified at the end of November 2011 that the third party investment group involved in the project had been acquired by a larger group and could not continue.
Siliken is now partnering with Enfinity America for long-term financing, and Lopez said they hope to begin the projects in March.
“We are just working through the last details on our contracts to get going,” he told the board.
The solar projects are being constructed through 20-year power purchase agreements (PPA) with a special purpose entity formed by Siliken. Under the PPA, the water district will purchase all electricity generated by the solar projects at an agreed upon price.
The PPAs had to be amended in October 2011 due to mitigation costs for non-native grasslands at the Santa Maria site following the guidelines set by the California Environmental Quality Act.
The district estimates it will save $1.5 million in electricity costs over the 20 years.
In other business:
•The board approved a draft budget calendar for fiscal year 2012-2013 that shows board budget workshops scheduled for March 27 and April 10, and Proposition 218 notices with proposed not-to-exceed rates to be sent to RMWD customers the week of April 23. The calendar shows a June 12 public hearing on proposed changes to water rates and fire and sewer service charges, followed by the board’s adoption of the budget.
•Following a closed session, RMWD General Manager David Barnum said the board returned to open session and authorized him to enter into a separate legal services agreement with a qualified third party law firm or individual for as-needed legal services. As general manager, Barnum said he has the ability to spend up to $30,000 for district legal services and the money is already budgeted.