Three solar bidders invited to Central Huron Council next month

Kevin McLlwain was the lead in development of the Central Huron Community Complex in his role as chief administrative officer for Central Huron.

HEATHER BOA Bullet News CLINTON – The three lowest bidders for installation of solar panels on buildings owned by the Municipality of Central Huron are invited to make presentations to council before it makes a final decision.

Fritz Construction with a bid of $1,826,984, Solarize Energies with a bid of $1,831,232.30 and Panasonic with a bid of $1,887,137.19 will be given 45 minutes each at a special council meeting on Mar. 7 to explain project details.

The municipality received 10 bids, but one was late and three were incomplete. The highest bid was more than $2.6 million, Peggy Van Mierlo-West, who is the municipality’s CAO, told councillors at a recent committee of the whole meeting.

Central Huron holds microFIT contracts with the Ontario Power Authority for two 250-kW projects, one on REACH Huron and one on Central Huron Community Complex. The program lays out a strict schedule of assessments, permitry, domestic content requirement and milestones. The project must be complete by July 2014 in order for the municipality to receive 71.3 cents per kWh for the 20-year contract term.

In a report from the municipality’s finance department, Steve Doherty, who is finance supervisor, suggested inviting the bidders to a council meeting to help council understand the differences in solar panels and other technical aspects of the bid. He also suggested a third-party consultant to help council determine which bid is the best for its money. That consultant could also manage day-to-day aspects of the project, he said.

“Projects of this magnitude are often subject to change orders and decisions that need to be made on the fly – things that we would not be able to properly address without a knowledgeable project manager on site,” Doherty said.

Coun. Brian Barnim, who owns 10 MicroFit solar projects at the west end of Clinton, said an independent consultant is a good idea to “dot the i’s and cross the t’s” and ensure proper installation at the end of the project, but should not cost tens of thousands of dollars.

He said there may be some variance between bids but there are only five components to a solar project.

“Everybody has an idea of what a better mousetrap is but there’s really not too much variance here. It’s pretty straight forward,” he said. “It is good to have them come and do a presentation but the ones that are out quite a bit from the [lowest] bid, I didn’t see the differences in what they are doing in terms of revenue generation or any alarming new technology that they’re using – because it doesn’t exist.”

The municipality will invite an independent consultant to the Mar. 7 special council meeting.

Written by on February 19, 2013 in Central Huron, Clinton - No comments

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