School board has questions about solar deal

Changing details and seemingly arbitrary deadlines have become a cause of concern for District 51 School Board members poised to approve or walk away from a solar garden project on district land.

The school board approved an option to the lease agreement June 18 that would allow San Francisco-based solar development company Ecoplexus to build and operate a solar panel array on district land at 2930 D 1/4 Road. The lease deal was contingent on the district signing a subscription agreement to pay Ecoplexus for reduced-price energy using energy credits from Xcel Energy.

Many details of the subscription agreement have been worked out, according to District 51 Resource Conservation Manager Eric Anderson, including an agreement that the subscription contract will have to be re-approved annually and that the subscription price cannot exceed the amount of credits the school district receives each year. School board members will be presented with a finalized subscription agreement Feb. 18. But some board members have questions before they decide whether to approve it.

It was while reviewing a similar subscription agreement between Ecoplexus and Colorado Department of Corrections in Logan County that the district discovered the agreement was signed with the name Fresh Air VI, LLC, instead of Ecoplexus. David Price, attorney for District 51, told school board members Tuesday Ecoplexus anticipates forming a limited liability company specifically for the Grand Junction project as well. Ecoplexus would be the sole manager of the limited liability company and would expect to sign the subscription agreement and possibly the lease agreement with the new name.

“It’s something we did not contemplate,” Price said.

Board Vice President John Williams said he was disappointed “with what I see to be a real lack of candor with Ecoplexus,” particularly following the new development about the limited liability company and after Ecoplexus Project Developer Bill Brick told the board Jan. 21 the project would be “over” if the district did not give the nod that they would participate in the subscription agreement before a Jan. 31 deadline from Xcel for Ecoplexus to make a $400,000 down payment on the program.

“It’s hard to follow the ball because the game keeps changing,” Williams said.

Board President Greg Mikolai said he hoped Brick will appear at the Feb. 18 meeting to answer questions before board members vote on the agreement.

“These agreements need to stretch out to Fresh Air. He’s going to need to answer some questions about this structure, that we’re not going to sign with one company and have another pulling the strings,” Mikolai said.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Brick said he will be at the Feb. 18 meeting but declined to comment on board members’ questions.


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