By Samuel Strait – Reporter at Large – January 22, 2022
The current spectacle at the Harbor surrounding their ill conceived plan
to reduce its power bill via the solar farm that currently graces the
harbor’s parking lot, is well on its way to becoming a clown show.
First the president of the Harbor Commission, Brian Stone at the time,
touted the electric savings realized by the Harbor’s solar array to be
$70,000 last summer. Now that the inconvenience of a Del Norte winter
has emerged, the savings tumbled to $35,000 a month or two ago. Recent
accounting now has the saving down to $16,470, and winter has yet to
subside. Of course, Mr. Stone, now no longer president, was able to
magically transform the $16,000 savings into $110,000 in the space of a
few minutes of mic time. Quite a feat of legerdemain. Mr. Stone and
fellow Commissioner, Wes White have been quite adept at painting a rosy
picture over their creature, the Harbor’s catastrophe in the making.
Like a huckster at a carnival selling “slick” to the rubes, CEO, Alex
Lemas of Renewable Energy Capital sold the duo of Stone and White the
fairy tale version of solar generated power in amounts too magnificent
to resist. An electricity cost savings dangled like a carrot on a hook
was waved in front of the two saps and they swallowed the tripe without
hesitation. Both men must be a product of the Del Norte Unified School
Fiasco. In spite of all the short comings that were readily available
for discovery, the plunge into solar power was made with little evidence
Now, after the fact, a for profit company with only the single solar
array, is in financial difficulties. Owes the harbor a bit over
$288,000. likely cannot afford to maintain the solar array or even keep
it clean for maximum performance. Suddenly, the obvious comes crashing
down on the current Commission and questions that should have been asked
up front are bubbling to the surface. What if REC goes under? Who will
maintain it and at what cost? Who will do the monthly cleaning? How
much will that cost? Then there is always the current questions that
should be asked, Is REC maintaining the system? Who is doing the
maintenance? What about the monthly cleaning? Kind of a bit late for
this kind of “What is happening? and Who is doing it?”
Yet the shoe hasn’t quite dropped yet, as that brilliant strategist,
Brian Stone now wants the Harbor to purchase the solar array,
substituting private sector failure for more Harbor Commission failure.
If they do that, one only wonders how much that will cost the District.
Projected cost to maintain the system is a paltry $112,00 per year.
Oops! there goes the saving for electricity, and no mention of how much
it will cost for the monthly cleaning. No one appears to be running the
Harbor Commission’s ship as it runs on the rocks, but it is clearly the
time to shut the whole thing down and be happy that the district got a
few “carports” out of the deal. Handy for the commissioners to park
under in inclement weather.