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MDUSD and SunPower to strut their stuff at Northgate event

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, April 20th, 2012 at 1:49 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

The Mt. Diablo school district and SunPower plan to highlight the district’s mammoth solar project during a “Turn on the Sun” dedication event at 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 1.

Here are details, distributed to the press by the Ogilvy PR firm:

“California’s schools are expected to achieve $1.5 billion in savings on electricity costs over the next 30 years through the use of on-site solar power systems. At a time when schools are being forced to make very tough budgeting decisions, that equates to a lot of pencils, laptops and teachers’ salaries.

Are you interested in joining SunPower, a leading California-based solar technology company, and the Mount Diablo Unified School District on Tuesday, May 1st to celebrate the largest solar school district installation in the country?

You’ll have to opportunity to speak with an executive from SunPower, who can discuss Sunpower’s role in making solar power systems more affordable for California’s schools, and see the newly installed system at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek.

A few details on SunPower’s partnership with the California School Board Association and the Mount Diablo Installation:

- 12.1 megawatts of solar power will be installed at 51 Mount Diable Unified School District (MDUSD) campuses by fall of 2012

- This project will offset 92% of MDUSD’s electricity costs, which will save more than $220 million over the next 30 years

- These savings will help the district sustain and enhance crucial educational programs for students”

The event will take place at Northgate High School, 425 Castle Rock Road, in Walnut Creek.

According to a PowerPoint presentation to the district’s Parent Advisory Council by Superintendent Steven Lawrence on April 4, the solar projects are resulting in the following savings:

“- Beginning in the 2012-13 school year reduce our PG&E bill from $3.5 million to under $500,000

- Also, we do not have to include an annual increase of 4 percent annual to our PG&E bill or estimate increased PG&E costs when HVAC upgrades are completed

- Generate California Solar Initiative funds of $3 million each year for the next five years.”

Do you support the board’s decision to complete the solar projects with the $348 million Measure C bond first, before working on HVAC, technology and modernization at school sites?

3:10 PM UPDATE: This event is invitation-only.

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  • g

    By Private Invitation Only! You mean to say the “$95,000,000.00 plus 30 years of interest paying public is not being invited?

  • Doctor J

    I don’t know why the Times is “for free” promoting a “sales pitch” by SunPower that is an “invite only” event for potential customers. And you guessed it, who will be there handing out his “VP of Solar” business cards the one and only Gary Eberhart, trained to be an expert in solar by attending one class PAID FOR with District Funds. Of course, Gary also claims as part of his resume, a Bachelor of Science degree from St. Mary’s College of California in nearby Moraga — I’m still trying to figure out if that was the Class of 1999 or 2002. I would love to see the diploma so I can get it straight.

  • LindaL

    G,
    I didn’t see a new bond option on the agenda for Monday? Can you tell me what you saw so I can look for it. I don’t think anything has changed but would want to know if for some reason it did.
    Thank you.

  • g

    LindaL: It isn’t showing as an Option. It’s the ‘new’ page nine showing ‘the current course’:

    http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/a08117f4-e0ff-4313-9929-99c3c6ff03bf.pdf

  • g

    Somebody, please tell me if the current district home page advertising the 4 forums that is there now, was there yesterday? Or did this go up after the last forum was over?

  • LindaL

    G,
    It is there. Look a few paragraphs above the options:

    Based on the current path and today’s interest rates, the District could issue approximately $50 million in bonds in 2012 followed by a subsequent bond sale in 2015 for $23 million. The remaining balance of $155 million could be issued in 2026. In order to maintain the estimated $60 tax rate approved by voters in June 2010, the District would issue some combination of CIBs and CABs which would bring the total borrowing costs to an estimated $908 million.

  • Theresa Harrington

    g: Even more surprisingly, I just heard from a person who I would consider to be “in the loop” on the district’s solar project, who was not invited and was wondering what was going on.

    Dr. J: I am not “promoting it.” I thought initially that it was open to the public. And I thought the public would like to see what the district and SunPower have been doing with the voter-approved bond money.

  • g

    LindaL, are you looking at the power point or Lawrence’s letter? My point is that there have been different presentations, different publications, different power points, and none of them match Lawrence’s letter, which itself has had a bit of tweeking since it first appeared.

    The following item on the agenda is the resolution which indicates that the board has been presented with two items that should be published with the Agenda:

    WHEREAS, there has been presented to this meeting of the District Board a form of Preliminary Official Statement (the “Preliminary Official Statement”) relating to the marketing and sale of such bonds;

    WHEREAS, there has been presented to this meeting of the District Board a form of
    Bond Purchase Agreement (the “Purchase Agreement”) by and among the District, the County and Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated dba Stone & Youngberg a Division of Stifel Nicolaus as representative (the “Representative”) of itself and George K. Baum & Company, relating to the marketing and sale of such bonds;

    IT SEEMS to me that the “Coalition”, to whom credit must be given for starting this whole reform and the uncovering of the plan to delay a final sale for 14 years, would be clamoring to see those two documents?

  • Doctor J

    @TH#7 Sunpower’s “publicist” — must be a Ronco infomercial with Ron Popiel — “set it and forget it”. “But wait there’s more!” Then Gary steps on stage with his “Veg-o-matic” run totally on solar power.

  • g

    Additionally the resolution indicates (contrary to the preferred option 3 wording) that they may sell what they are calling 2012 Series B bonds (where did Series A go???) –oops back on track — they may sell all of the remaining bonds in “one or more series”. Every series costs us more and more and eats away at any proposed savings.

  • LindaL

    G,
    The power point and the presentations are one in the same… I know because I sat through all four of them and reviewed the link you provided. I assume the letter and the publication you are referring to is the letter Lawrence sent to the community.

    I compared the Superintendent’s letter to the power point. Wasn’t that your concern?

    The paragraph I cut and pasted into comment #6 matches page 9 in the power point that you reference in comment #4.

    I am sorry but go fight a fight that is real, there are plenty of them and I will provide you a list if you are at a loss. In fact start with a strategic plan… we’ve got this one covered. You are simply confusing an already complicated issue.

  • g

    Theresa @7: I imagine one or two leaders from the CUES committee sorted thru their membership list to eliminate anyone who is no longer a fan of the bond; then they had a go at their Charter proponent Hit List, to eliminate a few; anyone who has publicly questioned Pedersen is definitely o-u-t. And then there is, as there always is in this sort of thing, more than a little bit of plain old in-your-face elitism.

  • g

    LindaL, the power point from 4/2 and the one from 4/16 are NOT the same–therefore any person who studied and depended on information on one, may be asked to vote on the other. Their option numbers are not the same, the dollar amounts are not the same. Lawrence’s letter has nothing to do with the presentations except to lay out yet another difference for those who may have mistakenly depended on it for clarity. I know the board members have on many occasions said “I didn’t read this or that or whatever”! I try to point out discrepancies, hoping they will notice and pay attention.

    It takes a great bloody EGO to tell someone who has worked very hard trying to keep on top of this to “get lost” and “get out of (your) way”.

    Surely no one would take personal financial advice from you?

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    Can anyone refresh my memory on how much the MDUSD solar deal relies on guarantees from SunPower for performance of the products, maintenance, replacement etc? I know that the company is under the same intense pricing pressure that has pushed so many solar manufacturers into bankruptcy. As European government subsidies disappeared due to the current financial crisis there (where SunPower does a lot of their business), and Chinese companies with lower costs take market share, it becomes a question of how much longer they can sustain their current losses. It probably helped to move their manufacturing to the Philippines (after Rep. George Miller toured their subsidized CA factory!), and it certainly helps to be owned largely be a French oil company, but still, companies can cut loose a subsidiary if it remains a money pit for too long. I hope we aren’t counting on them for too much.

  • g

    Jim, I think that info is alluded to in their contract. From one of SunPower’s (SPWR) recent prospectus’ I noted: “our solar panels have not and cannot be tested in an environment simulating the 25-year warranty period. As a result of the foregoing, we may be subject to unexpected warranty expense, which in turn would harm our financial results.”

    I also note that very recently they have been “settling” and paying up on their several “contract/breach of warranty” lawsuits– very probably with our taxpayer contribution.

  • Anon

    Linda L,

    WTF? Where do you get off treating G like that? Why don’t you take a long walk off a short pier you turncoat?

  • Alicia M.

    @G – You are right in that the Preliminary Official Bond statement should be provided as an attachment to the Agenda. I don’t see how the Board can vote on the Preliminary Official Bond statement without providing it to the Public ahead of time for public comment. I hope at least the Board received a copy.

    Also, the purchase agreement with the underwriter should be attached to the Agenda.

  • Alicia M.

    I’ve reviewed the Bond Resolution, and have the following questions. Perhaps the Board could address the following:

    1. Please justify a negotiated sale vs competitive sale. The Resolution mentions that a negotiated sale is being pursued because the munipal marketplace is complex. Please be specific and explain how it is so complex that a negotiated sale is warranted. Further, explain how a negotiated sale is in the taxpayer’s best interest when a competitive sale is generally known for having the lowest interest cost.

    2. If staff is recommending Option 3, please explain why the Bond Resolution addresses capital appreciation bonds.

    3. Fees are not to exceed 75 basis points (0.75%), please break out these fees and explain how these fees compare to the prior 2010 Measure C cost of issuances and justify/reconcile any increases.

    4. Please inform the public whether you are issuing the bonds pursuant to the Government Code 53506 and/or 15140. Both these codes have different maturity terms, maximum interest coupon rates, and discount rates. The Board Resolution should provide such information.

    5. Section 12, in my opinion, is a poor practice to give full discretion to any district officer, without needing board approval, to do whatever to issue the bonds. This raises the risk of errors and/or that significant changes to terms be made without public knowledge. There are still very important decisions to be made prior to issuance and the public should know about these critical steps, including that the official bond statement be approved by the board prior to issuance.

    6. Further, the credit enhancement can be very expensive, and its purchase should be justified to the Board and public…rather than giving any officer full discretion to make such a purchase when the cost benefit may not be justifiable.

  • Alicia M.

    Jim – Your concerns are valid. Based on the Sunpower contract, the performance guarantee and prepaid maintenance is about $5 million.

  • Alicia M.

    I’m not an expert on school funding…but I’ve always wondered why schools are not funded based on actual expenses, rather than ADA. Under this scenerio, if solar were installed to save $3 million off PG&E, the state could just lower the district’s funding by $3 million. However, this would eliminate the incentive for solar on schools.

  • Linda L

    G,
    To me there has been a logical progression to the information in the power point and the Superintendent’s memo. The four power point presentations and the presentation attached to the agenda are all the same. I believe the power point from the study session was revised after input from the session.

    My last paragraph of my earlier post was out of line. It isn’t the first time I have spoken out of turn and it won’t be the last. I am so frustrated with this District and in so many ways. There is so much that needs changing… big issues like strategic planning and restoring trust and confidence. Two items that would make such a huge difference when it comes to Board decision making. To waste one moment of time on censure language or Board decorum retreats is indicative of a Board that has truly lost its way.

    I am just as frustrated at the underlying notion that everything is a conspiracy when it comes to some of the posts on this blog. Sometimes there are great comments and exchanges of information and ideas and other times it is fraught with theories of conspiracies that really don’t get us anywhere.

    This bond structure has been a problem since day one. Because there are no more low interest CREBs and no more 2002 bonds to refund anytime soon, the District will either further break the $60 cap or they will sell CABs. From the best that we can tell, those CABs would have to be a longer term than the CABs previously sold, making them far more costly. So here is the deal… what do you want to have happen? The bond is not going away.

  • Alicia

    @13 g.. while I recognize all your hardwork, Linda has worked very hard to make this district a better place. Perhaps we can call a truce.