In reviewing the PUSD Vendor History Report, a consultant named Strategic Energy caught my eye. I requested a copy of the contract. The contract is between PUSD and Strategic Energy; PUSD hired Strategic Energy to "oversee solar power generation project." Part of Strategic Energy's role was to select among the three contractors who submitted solar panel bids to PUSD. The total fee for Strategic Energy's consulting services was $88 THOUSAND.
According to the PUSD Vendor History Report, Strategic Energy has been paid in full.
Based on the Budget FAQs, it will take over four years for PUSD to realize sufficent energy savings to offset the $188K PUSD has paid or is committed to pay for solar panels' installation. There may be additional costs associated with the solar panel installation. I am continuing to review the PUSD Vendor History Report and request copies of consultant contracts.
This is of course a very time consuming process much better suited to an accountant than to me. The one consultant I would gladly see PUSD pay for is an accountant who will comb through the budget to determine areas where budget cuts can be made, provide recommendations on where funds should not have been spent and assist PUSD in setting up procedures for PUSD to be as financially efficient as possible.
However, I am not only interesed in knowing how taxpayers' money has been spent, I am also interested in PUSD and the School Board trustees providing the transparency to the Pleasanton community which they have stated they would like to do.
I hope that PUSD will correct the information on the PUSD website to reflect the actual costs of solar panels and indicate that rather than realizing a savings to the General Fund, at present the costs relative to solar panel installation is a charge to the General Fund.
FROM THE PUSD WEBSITE (www.pleasanton.k12.ca.us)
Did the installation of solar panels cost the District money?
No. The panels were installed at no cost to the District. PUSD signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Honeywell which enabled Honeywell to install panels on our roofs and enabled the District to buy power at a fixed, lower price. Our current cost for power is 11.5 cents per kwh, and the agreement includes a 4.5% increase annually for inflation. The going rate when we signed the agreement was 15 cents and has now gone to 16. The estimate for first year savings was $35,000, which will probably turn out to be $44,000 in savings this year.
Honeywell is also responsible for maintaining the panels. At the end of the agreement (20 years), the District has the option to continue the agreement, purchase the panels at a depreciated price, or have Honeywell remove them at their cost. In summary, the project has enabled the District to realize a savings to the General Fund.