Jessica Cejnar / Tuesday, May 19 @ 5:39 p.m. / Infrastructure, Local Government

Harbor's Solar Project Expected to Light Up by June 30 Deadline

Hemmingsen Construction crews pour sand Tuesday for carports that will be part of the Crescent City Harbor District's solar energy system. Photo: Jessica Cejnar

A Florida-based solar firm will likely complete a 350 megawatt project at the Crescent City Harbor by its June 30 deadline, the harbormaster told commissioners Tuesday.

Harbor CEO Charlie Helms said he expected EcoForce Solutions construction crews to finish installing photovoltaic panels on top of Pacific Choice Seafoods and Albers Seafoods buildings on Tuesday.

Workers were also busy along Citizens Dock Road on Tuesday pouring sand and concrete to install carports that will support more solar panels, Helms said.

“The EcoForce crew chief said they will be back the second week in June because that’s the scheduled completion date for the support structure for the car ports,” Helms told Harbor District commissioners. “Unless something stands in their way, at the speed the crew works, I don’t see them letting anything stand in their way. Even if they had to be out there 24-hours a day.”

Based on Helms’ report, it appears Renewable Energy Capital CEO Alex Lemus is living up to his end of a contract the Crescent City Harbor District approved in January, Board President Brian Stone observed on Tuesday.

That power purchase agreement stipulated that Renewable Energy Capital would pay a $350,000 penalty to the Crescent City Harbor District if the project wasn’t finished by June 30, 2020. According to Helms, REC would have to pay that penalty as of July 1, 2020.

The original power purchase agreement between REC and the Crescent City Harbor dates back to 2017. Under that 25-year contract, REC would install, finance, own and operate a 1-megawatt photovoltaic system at the harbor.

The system would consist of panels on the Albers Seafood and Pacific Choice Seafood buildings as well as carports along Citizens Dock Road near the port’s inner boat basin.

Under the original agreement, the Costa Mesa-based firm tasked with installing the system, American Diversified Energy, was required to finish the project Dec. 31, 2018. The Harbor District extended that deadline to Dec. 31, 2019, but ADE wasn’t able to finish the project.

In December, Lemus apologized on behalf of ADE and paid off a lien the Harbor District had levied on solar panels that it was storing.

In addition to saving $35,000 annually on its electricity payments, the Crescent City Harbor District would be entitled to $20,000 annually in site lease fees for the full 25 years of the lease, according to a Nov. 20, 2018 staff report.

On Tuesday, Stone asked Helms when the Harbor District could expect payment. Helms said he wasn’t yet sure.

“It could be in June if Pacific Power doesn’t drag their feet in getting everything hooked up and checked on,” Helms said. “It could be in July if there is some delay.”

Meanwhile, during a finance report, Stone said the Harbor District has roughly $1.9 million on hand in cash, though his colleague, Commissioner Wes White said the port isn’t making money.

Stone, however, said the Harbor District was “in the red” two to three years ago.

“We’re in good financial condition,” he said. “It’s a great thing that htis harbor’s financial situation has flipped around. It’s a good thing for all of us, to be in a solvent place and not to be in a negative (situation).”


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