Clewiston commissioners demur on solar power expansion

CLEWISTON — The city commissioners declined to go forward with a potential step into the future of energy production and delivery to residential customers, not advancing a Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA) plan and setup to allow renewable-energy input and output through their utility.

City Manager Randy Martin presented a resolution Monday, Nov. 18, authorizing the All-Requirements Project Solar Energy Participation Agreement between the city and FMPA for action, explained the commissioners had considered the matter several times previously and said representatives of FMPA were present to answer any questions.

Mr. Martin said, “I appreciate all the efforts that FMPA staff have made to try to get you as well informed as possible to make an informed decision on this project. This would be the second phase of these type of opportunities for the member units of FMPA.” City Compliance Officer and Safety Manager Lynne Mila introduced the FMPA’s Chris Gowder.

“We went out and did a bidding process and found a developer that could bring the economies of scale and the price that the cities wanted, and the opportunity to participate is here for you,” he said.

Mayor Mali Gardner thanked him and said she’d noticed that three of the involved municipalities had withdrawn from the project as it expands, Alachua, Bartow and Wauchulla, and asked Mr. Gowder, assistant operations and business development director, to explain why. He said they had entered into an “aggressive level of solar in the first project” and they’d all had the same concerns about getting further into the project.

The newest commissioner, Melanie McGahee, stated: “I’m not comfortable with the contract presented. It’s a 20-year contract. I don’t think we’re big enough as a city that solar is on our radar to the degree it is to bigger counties or cities, and I don’t see the benefit to our city by signing this contract.”

Ms. Gardner asked if staff had any other comments. City Manager Martin spoke.

“Based on the review that we’ve had, and if it is the commission’s desire to have portfolio that includes renewable, solar energy in your portfolio, then management would recommend approval of this agreement. But it’s certainly the discretion of the board.”

He said he would recommend that Clewiston go ahead with part two of the project, as it would have a tiny impact on rates.

Mayor Gardner called for a motion. Commissioner Kristine Petersen made one to approve, but it died for lack of a second.

City Attorney Gary Brandenburg said, “That’s all the action you need to take on that item.”

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment