Harbor commissioners on Tuesday were unwilling to grant a year’s extension to American Diversified Energy for the completion of a 1.5-megawatt solar project.

Four commissioners on the Crescent City Harbor District voted to table the issue until Deputy Harbormaster Lane Tavasci could speak with Neil Zoller, president of the Costa Mesa-based firm that will finance, build and maintain the solar project. Tavasci said he would speak with Zoller today and provide information to commissioners individually. Commissioner Jim Ramsey was absent.

“It’s too much of a delay,” said Commissioner Wes White. “It’s a 12-month delay. I don’t see a 12-month delay in anything they’ve done, so I’m not for a 12-month delay. If there is a 12-month delay then I think they should have to sacrifice some things.”

ADE requested the extension, saying though they obtained interconnection permit approvals from Pacific Power and Light, a 75-kilowatt transformer needs to be upgraded to a minimum of 350 kilowatts, but the utility didn’t have one available, according to the harbor district’s staff report.

According to Tavasci, a 350-kilowatt transformer wouldn’t be available for three to six months. The utility could have a 500-kilowatt transformer available in about two months, Tavasci said.

“ADE had to make changes to all their engineering designs,” he said. “They had to go back and modify the permit for net metering and then they had to get that re-approved, which it was. It was pretty much rubber stamped when they had that done.”

According to Tavasci, ADE has been working with Pacific Power on the engineering and net metering permit for the solar project. He said ADE will likely use the 500-kilowatt transformer rather than wait six months for the 350-kilowatt transformer.

Meanwhile, the solar panels for the project are expected to arrive in February, Tavasci said. ADE’s engineers will inspect Pacific Seafood, Fashion Blacksmith and Alber’s Seafood to make sure “everything is the way they believe it should be” before the panels are installed, Tavasci said.

Though Tavasci said ADE will start laying the infrastructure for the solar project within two months as long as the material arrives, White said he would like to see a contract.

“I would like you to go back to them and see a contract when they will have it done and contractually have it done that way rather than giving them the leeway of an additional six or eight months,” White said. “Because (I’m) frustrated with the amount of time it’s taking.”

Harbormaster Charlie Helms noted that ADE has been diligent in working with the harbor on its solar project. He drew a distinction between ADE and previous solar firms the harbor has worked with such as Trienergy LLC, of Florida.

Helms noted the harbor district’s solar project is ADE’s first large coastal project and its first project in Del Norte.

“They’ve been here, they’ve been consulting, they’ve been very good about trying to stay on top of it,” Helms said. “I just wanted to let everybody know it’s unlike the situation before.”

However, other commissioners stated they, too, were frustrated with the requested extension.

“I would be more than willing to give them until June or July, but I would like to see it tightened down like Commissioner White,” said Commissioner Brian Stone.

The harbor district hopes that by installing solar panels it will save $35,000 annually on its electricity payments. The harbor district would also be entitled to $20,000 annually in site lease fees for the full 25 years of the lease for a total of $500,000, according to the district’s staff report.

Meanwhile, in his CEO report, Helms told harbor commissioners that he will be 2019 president of the California Association of Harbormasters and Port Captains. He said he will be able to work more closely with APEX Group, a lobbying group, on issues that affect commercial fishing.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com .

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