Jessica Cejnar / Friday, March 20 @ 3:30 p.m. / Infrastructure, Local Government

As They Push For Solar, Harbor Commissioners Hear Pitch For Another Green Energy System

Another green energy company has pitched its product to Crescent City Harbor commissioners, saying its system could generate revenue for the port.

Nick Perez, representative of Van Nuys-based Eco-Gen Energy, said his company’s JouleBox Power Station could supply the port with all the power it needs. The system, which uses a combination of solar panels, wind turbines and a lithium battery, would run 24-7 and could power the city and county along with the harbor, he said.

“What this particular presentation has in front of you is a 6 megawatt system,” Perez told commissioners Tuesday. “The harbor needs 1 megawatt. We can pull it back or scale it up to provide as much power as you need.”

The Eco-Gen Energy presentation comes as the Crescent City Harbor District is awaiting the installation of a 1.5 megawatt solar system. The port is working with Florida-based Renewable Energy Capital. If the system isn’t producing electricity by June 30, 2020, REC would pay a $350,000 penalty to the harbor district.

On Tuesday, Harbor District board president Brian Stone said Eco-Gen’s JouleBox is a different concept to the planned solar project and would be a way for the port to increase its revenue in the future.

One JouleBox does the unit of 1,937 solar panels. A 2 megawatt unit is 1,700 square feet large and 10 feet tall, Perez said. A base unit weighs 8,800 pounds and could power 30 to 40 homes, he said.

The unit proposed for the harbor would be 1,000 square feet with a prefab metal shelter around it, Perez said.

A JouleBox could work in the background to a photovoltaic solar panel system, providing constant power, he said.

“Looking at costs in the area based on Pacific Power, if solar will save you 7 to 8 cents per kilowatt hour on your (electricity) costs, this machine runs at 6 cents per kilowatt hour,” Perez said. “So, conceptually, instead of having a reduction in cost, we flip the usage into a revenue generator should you choose to sell your power at 10 cents per kilowatt hour. Four cents is now your margin and that revenue will go directly into the harbor and do whatever you need.”

According to Perez, the 6 cents per kilowatt hours is based on the price of the JouleBox system. Since the harbor is a government agency it can sell power, he said.

The cost for a 1 megawatt unit is $6.4 million, Perez said. But for municipalities, he said, the cost could decrease to $4.8 million. He said financing is available to get the unit built, installed and operating at the harbor.

“Once the unit is paid off, you could buy the unit from EcoGen for $1,” he said. “Now you don’t have the 6 cents as a cost. Now 100 percent in my example of 10 cents per kilowatt hour, all of that is revenue.”

According to Perez, once the unit is operating, the turbines keep the lithium battery charged. He said it doesn’t take fossil fuels to operate. The purchase price comes with a 10, 20 or 30-year maintenance warranty, Perez said.

The unit would also be insured through Lloyd’s of London, he said.
According to Perez, though Eco-Gen Energy received patents for its JouleBox system in November and June 2019, developers are interested. A small 565,000 kilowatt base unit is powering roughly 30 homes in Van Nuys, he said.

Another project is powering a Texas Silica sand plant in MIdland-Odessa, Texas, Perez said. Edgewater Tiny Homes is also purchasing JouleBox units for its tiny house community in Fredericksburg, Texas, he said.

The Harbor District’s solar project consists of photovoltaic panels installed on top of the Albers Seafood and Pacific Choice Seafood buildings. The solar project also includes building carports at the Crescent City Harbor.

On Tuesday, Harbormaster Charlie Helms told commissioners he spoke with REC CEO Alex Lemus, the managing partner with ADE Crescent City LLC, the company tasked with installing the solar project. Helms said Lemus was “pushing” ADE Crescent City Managing Member Julio  Macedo to sign paperwork.

“He’s impressing upon Julio that if you don’t get this done, you’re out $350,000, so keep moving,” Helms said, referring to Lemus.


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