Jessica Cejnar / Friday, July 19, 2019 @ 2:33 p.m. / Infrastructure

Big Solar Project at Crescent City Harbor Suffers Delays and Misses Deadline, but District Staff Say It's Still Happening


May 2018 video detailing the solar project at the Harbor District

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A Costa Mesa-based firm tasked with installing a 1.5 megawatt solar system at the Crescent City Harbor has missed a July 15 deadline to complete the project.

However, the obstacles the company, American Diversified Energy, has had to overcome to start the project have been out of its control, according to Deputy Harbormaster Lane Tavasci. Tavasci said Thursday he was waiting to speak with ADE representatives to determine how much more time they would need to finish.

The Crescent City Harbor District Board of Commissioners in November 2018 rejected an ADE request to establish a Dec. 31, 2019 deadline to complete the project, which consists of installing rooftop solar panels on the Albers Seafood and Eureka fisheries buildings and constructing carports near the district office and inner boat basin.

Instead harbor commissioners gave the firm until July 15 to finish all phases of the installation. The solar panels arrived at the port in February, Tavasci said.

“I think they’re going to ask for another extension,” Tavasci said Thursday. “The original request was for Dec. 31, 2019 and the commissioners wanted to get this done. That’s why they put a really tight timeline on it and (with) construction plans you say ‘here’s our plan. This is what we want to do,’ and then you deal with the reality of when things happen or don’t happen. A construction plan has to be more flexible.”

The Crescent City Harbor District hopes that by installing solar panels it will save $35,000 annually on its electricity payments. The harbor district would also be entitled to $20,000 annually in site lease fees for the full 25 years of the lease for a total of $500,000, according to a Nov. 20, 2018 staff report.

ADE’s first hurdles came just before making its November 2018 request to harbor commissioners.

Though ADE obtained an interconnection permit from Pacific Power and Light, the local utility, a 75-kilowatt transformer needed upgrading to a minimum of 350 kilowatts to finish the project, Tavasci said. Obtaining the upgraded transformer would take six months.

The engineering reports weren’t for the roofing contract weren’t available in a timely manner, Tavasci said.

A delay on U.S. Government decisions regarding import taxation stalled the project, though Crescent City’s panels arrived in February. Then the California Coastal Commission stepped in with a requirement to strengthen the carports’ foundations, Tavasci said.

“Instead of 3 by 3, they wanted to make them 4 feet wide,” he said, adding that the initial plans for the carport called for using 300,000 cubic yards of dirt and sand.

At the Coastal Commission’s behest, the contractor will use 450,000 cubic yards of dirt and sand, Tavasci said. The Commission also asked the contractor to “beef up” the carport’s steel beams, he said.

“Because of the 90-mile an hour winds that we occasionally have here,” Tavasci said. “The new ones are rated for 120-125 mph winds.”

The port began working with ADE to finance and build the solar project in January 2018 after it signed a power purchase agreement with Florida-based Renewable Energy Capital.

ADE is working with Santa Ana-based subcontractor EcoForce Solutions to install the solar project, Tavasci said. He noted that the delays are also out fo the subcontractor’s hands and said he’s in the “hurry up and wait” mode.

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Reach Jessica Cejnar at jessica@wildriversoutpost.com.


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