Margay Blackman didn’t waste any time responding to Kirk Golden’s criticism of the village’s agreement with Solar Liberty, to erect a solar farm to power the village’s municipal buildings. It is good to see the mayor strike back quickly. Her opinion column on page 3 of the December 13, 2015 edition of the Suburban News, Brockport Mayor responds to recent opinion on No Bid projects, really sets the record straight.
Golden’s criticism was published in the Opinion column on page 3 of the December 6, 2015 edition of the Suburban News, under the title. Are No Bid projects fair to the community? But the third paragraph of his opinion piece clearly shows that his criticism is sour grapes.
The Village hired an engineering firm, Larson Engineers, to identify competent firms that could handle the scale and complexity of the Brockport Solar PV project. Kirk Golden is upset because Larson Engineers did not think that his firm (Rochester Solar and Wind) had the resources and experience need to complete the project. But he didn’t bother to mention that.
Also his argument is weakened greatly because some of his statements were not accurate, and he never identified why he called it a no bid project. He wrote that the, “Mayor and Town Board members had voted 5-0 on October 19 to award a no bid contract to a Buffalo area contractor.” The contract he’s talking about is a power purchase agreement (PPA), which is a contract between two parties, one which generates electricity (the seller) and one which is looking to purchase electricity (the buyer). In this case the buyer is the Village of Brockport and the seller is Solar Liberty.
Golden was wrong, it was the Village Board not the Town Board that voted to approve the contract, and there is a huge difference between the two. That kind of sloppy writing is a sign of a sloppy thought process. If Golden can’t get the obviously easy things right, the odds are low that he will get the more complicated things right.
Golden was also wrong when he cited the minutes of the October 19, 2015 Village Board meeting and he wrote that the vote to award the no bid contract is on page 7 of those minutes. But if you read those minutes, there is no mention of a no bid contract. It seems that perhaps Kirk Golden used the term no bid contract because he knows that the instant some people hear or read about a no bid contract, the hair on the back of their neck stands on end. He knows that some people view no bid contracts as political corruption, a way for politicians to funnel government money to the people who gave them financial support when they ran for public office.
To read the minutes of that meeting:
- Go to the Village website.
- Select Village and Clerks from the Department & Services menu.
- Click on the link for the minutes of the Village Board of Trustees meetings.
- On the Village Board Meeting Minutes page, click on the link for the 10-19-15 meeting.
- Scroll down to page 7.
- The information on the power purchase agreement (PPA) is near the bottom of the page, in the second paragraph under the heading OLD or NEW BUSINESS.
On page 7, all the minutes say about signing the contract is, “Approve and authorize Mayor to sign solar energy PPA with Solar Liberty.” Those words are followed by a discussion of some of the mundane details of the contract including outages and the effective date of the contract. Then, according to the minutes, “Village Attorney Mastrella said he reviewed the PPA from a legal perspective and found it to be acceptable.”
The very last paragraph on page 7 of the minutes is about needing a memorandum of agreement with the Seymour Library about the PPA… The vote Mr. Golden mentioned is not on page 7 at all. It is in the third paragraph on page 8. “Trustee Kristansen moved, Trustee LaPierre seconded, carried 5/0 to approve and authorize the Mayor to sign the solar energy PPA with Solar Liberty.” Kirk Golden couldn’t even get the page number right. But he figured that most people would never bother to read the minutes and they would never bother to check whether or not it is a no bid contract.
Brockport Mayor Margay Blackman responded to Kirk Golden’s misinformation quickly, calmly and efficiently in her response published this week in the Opinion column on page 3 of the December 13, 2015 edition of the Suburban News, Brockport Mayor responds to recent opinion on No Bid projects.
“A Power Purchase Agreement is, by definition, not a Capital Expenditure project, but rather an Energy Performance contract. As such, it does not require the same ‘request for proposal’ process as if the Village were buying the system outright.”
“To ensure the best value for the community, the Village Board brought in Larsen Engineers of Rochester. This firm 1) conducted a study to determine the viability of this project; 2) calculated an appropriate system capacity; and 3) sought a developer who could finance, design and build a system on the Brockport landfill large enough to meet the electrical demands of all municipal meters.”
“The scale and complexity of the Brockport Solar PV project narrowed the field of potential developers…Of the developers presented with this opportunity, Solar Liberty returned the most favorable proposal.”
In her quick response, Brockport Mayor Margay Blackman set the record straight. That is a sign of good leadership.