(emailed May 22, 2012 to Damon Connolly)
Chair MEA Board
Marin Energy Authority
781 Lincoln Avenue, Suite 320
San Rafael, CA 94901
Dear Mr. Connolly —
The Marin Energy Authority fails to disclose negative developments while it seeks positive media attention during this sensitive opt-out period. I am concerned that this could be construed as an attempt by MEA to influence the opt-out numbers.
The Marin IJ recently gave MEA favorable news coverage about its newly announced San Rafael airport solar farm. However, MEA fails to publicly disclose problems with renewable energy commitments already made to Marin. This includes MEA's Rio Solar solar farm near Rocklin. Rio Solar is 15 times the size of your airport project.
RIO SOLAR'S CONSTRUCTION FEASIBILITY
- Personnel at the site adjacent to Rio Solar's advertised Rocklin location, where Rio Solar would reportedly share a grid interconnection, indicate development efforts for Rio Solar ceased about seven months ago, about the same time MEA announced Rio Solar to Marin consumers.
- Rio Solar's lone developer now says it may be looking for investors to fund the project but, to this time, Rio Solar's been "on the back burner."
- Environmentalists are concerned about vernal pools and fairy shrimp in Rocklin.
- Placer County's Planning Department has no record of any plans to construct Rio Solar. It reports that development of solar farms in Placer County is a multi-year process. For instance, SunPower Corp is now one year into an approximate four year environmental review. MEA’s contract shows Rio Solar's commercial operation is March 31, 2013. You mean 2017?
- Assuming Rio Solar is actually constructed, a four year delay means MEA fails to provide about 140,000 megawatt hours of clean energy. This equals Marin's entire residential load for three months. This is a staggering shortfall.
Article 2.4 of your Rio Solar contract specifies quarterly progress reports on financing, permitting, construction milestones, and interconnection. I am unaware of any progress reports to MEA’s Board, Executive, or Technical committees. Nevertheless, please email copies of these quarterly progress reports to me.
Please also explain why this information was not disclosed to the media and to consumers during this sensitive opt-out period. Don’t consumers have a right to know what they’re paying for, especially after MEA announced Rio Solar will be producing next year?
RIO SOLAR'S GUARANTEED ENERGY OUTPUT
Assuming Rio Solar is constructed, MEA overstates the contract’s "guaranteed output" by 43 percent MEA advertises 36,000 megawatt hours of solar output, but fails to advertise that the contract only guarantees 25,200 hours. The following puts this into perspective:
- Six San Rafael airport solar farms are required just to cover the difference between what the Rio Solar contract guarantees and what MEA advertises it receives from Rio Solar.
- Alternately, six of MEA’s promised 1 MW solar carport shade structures are required to make up the difference.
- Even if MEA’s solar airport and solar carport are both constructed, MEA remains thousands of megawatt hours short of its total green energy representations when Rio Solar's guaranteed output is compared with MEA's representations. This assumes Rio Solar is even built.
Who at MEA decides the appropriate number of megawatt hours to advertise to the public? No doubt, serving on MEA's Board has a fashionable appeal, but your unrealistic megawatt hours indicate that your Board does not understand what it is doing.
Will MEA's Board implement consultant recommendations and substitute renewable energy certificates (RECs) for Rio Solar's shortfalls? When will MEA disclose that RECs are NOT genuine delivered green energy? When will MEA educate consumers about its skyrocketing reliance upon these low-cost Wall Street-type instruments? See attached RECs plot.
MEA's announced San Rafael airport project appears to be positive news. However, public relations should not whitewash MEA's overall follow-through on its total energy commitments. Selective accounting is reminiscent of Enron.
Please email me copies of MEA progress reports on Rio Solar, as well as an explanation of why this information was not fully disclosed to potential ratepayers during this sensitive opt-out period.
MEA Opt Out (888) 632-3674
cc: MEA Board