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Contra Costa County Office of Education solar projects move forward

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 at 2:13 pm in Contra Costa County, Education, Theresa Harrington.

By Theresa Harrington
The Contra Costa County Office of Education plans to install solar projects at two of its campuses by the end of the year.
According to its Aug. 18 meeting minutes, here is the process the county used to select its contractor:

“Associate Superintendent Bill Clark thanked the Board for its ongoing support and input during the process to contract for the construction of solar panels. He noted that the Board had requested staff to solicit competitive bids, to be frugal in its selection of a contractor, to investigate security concerns, and to make modifications based on that investigation; as a result, the project that has resulted is one that best meets the CCCOE’s needs.
He also reminded the Board that this project will benefit the general fund and, therefore, will save jobs.
Mr. Clark then introduced General Services Director John Hild, who introduced Aaron Jobson of Quattrochi Kwok Architects. Mr. Jobson provided a PowerPoint presentation of the solar panel project. Mr. Jobson reviewed the photovoltaic design process, indicating that of the five potential sites that were evaluated for feasibility, two (the Stewart Building and Mauzy School) were selected for the project.
He reported that the CCCOE had secured CSI rebate funding at $0.26 per kilowatt hour, had conducted the RFP process to competitively select the design-build contractor, compared and evaluated the two proposals to determine the best value, and then refined the scope of the project and negotiated the final terms of the contract with Roebbelen Contracting, Inc.
Mr. Jobson showed a satellite image of the Stewart Building to give the Board an idea of what the project would look like conceptually and reviewed the potential electricity use and savings as well as the placement of the solar panels on the property; he also informed the Board that the County Library has agreed to allow the removal of trees that currently are located between its property and the Stewart Building parking lot in order to accommodate the solar panels.
He noted that the solar panels would offset 100 percent of the building’s electricity cost and 82 percent of its electricity use. He then showed the Board a satellite image of Mauzy School and described the total electricity use and noted that the panels would also offset 100 percent of Mauzy School’s electricity cost and 82 percent of its electricity use.
Mr. Gopal Shanker of Recolte energy then reviewed the RFP process, listing the 16 companies that were invited to submit an RFP and noting that, of the three proposals received, only two were deemed to be very good. He reported that after interviewing the two finalists, it was determined that the finalist that met all of the criteria and came in with the lowest bid was Roebbelen Contracting, Inc.
Mr. Shanker also reviewed the RFP scoring process and noted that Roebbelen was required to guarantee the savings in kilowatt hours, to provide a ten-year warranty, and to maintain the system.
Mr. Gomes asked if a construction bond was required of the contractor, and Mr. Shanker explained that the contractor teamed up with a manufacturer in order to get a bond.
Dr. Foster asked where the companies are located, and Mr. Jobson stated that the panel manufacturer is located in Arizona and assured the Board that his firm sought to use local labor, as Board members had requested.
Mr. Hild noted that the contractor would be using local workers who are members of the local union, which is typical for school construction.
Mr. Hild then proceeded to review the project’s budget, which totals
$3,526,150. Mr. Gomes noted that there were expenses associated with an inspector and legal counsel, and he asked for their names. Mr. Hild responded that the CCCOE is using Greg Birtchet, who is with the Division of the State Architect, as the inspector for the project and the law firm of Best, Best & Krieger as the legal counsel, and he noted that he does not yet know who Banc of America Leasing & Capital will be using.
Mr. Hild then provided a system summary and summarized the financing. Mr. Borsuk noted that there had previously been some talk that redevelopment money would be used for the project and wondered where those monies would come into play.
Mr. Hild responded that redevelopment funds would come into play with the debt service payments. Mrs. Mirabella noted that although the project is now smaller, since Marchus School is no longer included, the new cost does not seem to reflect this.
Mr. Jobson responded that the financing program presented earlier to the Board during the planning phase is no longer available. Mr. Clark further explained that the biggest difference involves the down payment on the project, which in turn affects the pay-off terms; since the CCCOE is putting down less of a down payment, it will owe more, which will necessitate higher payments.
Mr. Clark then explained how the Build America bond program would work.
Mrs. Mirabella asked if the CCCOE would need to pay taxes on the project, and Mr. Clark stated that that would not be the case. Mr. Hild then proceeded to review the savings of the project.
Mr. Borsuk asked how redevelopment money has been spent by the CCCOE in the past, and Mr. Hild explained that it has been used for the energy-management system at the Stewart Building and principally on facility maintenance.
Mr Borsuk then asked what the CCCOE would do if it had to pay for expensive maintenance, such as painting the Stewart Building, and Mr. Hild responded that all the necessary maintenance projects have already been completed at the Stewart Building and that not all maintenance projects are paid with redevelopment funds.
Mr. Borsuk asked if Roebbelen would use workers’ compensation insurance through a reputable company and noted that he did not see anything on this matter in the packet. He asked Mr. Hild to ensure that the contractors are asked for proof of surety, and he stated that he would like to know the name of the insurance company and its A.M. Best rating.
Mr. Hild assured Mr. Borsuk that he would have legal counsel review this aspect with the contractor(s). Mr. Borsuk emphasized that legal counsel should look at the financial-strength rating and that he would like Mr. Hild to report back to the Board on the insurance requirements. Mr. Gomes stated that the CCCOE should be listed as an additional insured.
Mr. Jobson then outlined the annual general fund cost of the project and explained that a 6.5 percent PG&E escalation rate was used to demonstrate the anticipated savings to be realized over time. Mr. Borsuk asked if any Contra Costa County contractors had been invited to submit RFPs, and Mr. Jobson assured him that local contractors were indeed contacted; he also mentioned that Sunpower in Richmond had been invited to submit an RFP but that Sunpower tends to work on much larger projects than this one.
Mr. Jobson also mentioned that the CCCOE is requiring that the contractors use American-made solar panels since this is a requirement for receiving federal funding.
Dr. Foster thanked Mr. Clark for providing a great presentation on this matter. At this point, Mrs. Mirabella asked about the potential for change orders and additional costs, and Mr. Clark stated that the CCCOE had included what is believed to be an adequate figure for addressing contingencies.
Mr. Jobson also explained that the price of the panels is locked in for 90 days. Mr. Borsuk agreed that the presentation had been excellent. Mrs. Mirabella pointed out that taxes appear to be listed in the documentation, and Mr. Clark explained that Banc of America Leasing & Capital is the taxable agency, not the CCCOE.
The Board then voted by the following roll call vote to adopt Board Resolution No. 3-10/11 in the Matter of Making Findings Under California Government Code section 4217.10, et seq., and Delegating the Authority to the County Superintendent of Schools to Execute the Proposed Design-Build Contract for the Construction of Solar Photovoltaic Projects at the Mauzy School and Stewart Building Sites with Roebbelen Contracting, Inc.
Mirabella, aye; Foster, aye; Gomes, aye; Ruley, aye; and Borsuk, aye (M/S: Gomes/Ruley).”

As the Mt. Diablo district begins the RFP process for its $68 million solar project, it will be interesting to see who bids and how the selection is made.

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