Bankrupt solar farm improvements awarded to Corona contractor

Rialto low bidder unresponsive, according to city staff

Photo by Melissa Diaz Hernandez/The Valley Chronicle
Construction has begun to complete improvements on the SunEdison solar generating plant at Sanderson and Acacia Avenues.

■ Melissa Diaz Henandez / Editor

The long-awaited improvements to the southwest corner of Sanderson and Acacia Avenues began Monday, July 31, according to Acting City Engineer Nino Abad, who spoke at the July 25 Hemet City Council meeting.
The contract was awarded to Hillcrest Contracting, Inc. of Corona even though the lowest bidder was Vance Corp. of Rialto. Hillcrest came in $54,245 over Vance with a bid of $2,313,378, but Vance didn’t follow up and was deemed “unresponsive.”
The project will be funded by the remaining $1,960,616 of the original $2,112,316 letter of credit in account 370-4125. Staff report states: “Measure A funds in the amount of $632,099.54 in account 222-5637 are available to fund the remaining costs.”
Staff report states: “As a condition of the CUP (conditional use permit), the project was required to construct certain public improvements near the corner of Acacia and Sanderson. The developer ceased operations prior to completing the required public improvements and filed for Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. The City subsequently sent a Demand Letter to Key Bank. On May 16, 2016, Key Bank wire transferred $2,113,111 to the City of Hemet. Of that value, $1,960,616. is currently available for construction. The difference—$152,495—was allocated to complete the construction documents, construction management, construction inspection, and materials testing.”
The improvements will consist “of the construction of landscaping and sidewalk along the project’s frontage on Acacia and Sanderson along with road widening and associated traffic signal modifications necessitated by the road widening. The project is scheduled for 50 working days.
Hillcrest Construction provided a list of project experiences with similar complexity in their bid package. Peninsula Point Ally Replacement in the City of Newport Beach, Perris Boulevard improvements in Moreno Valley, and Anaheim Canyon Metrolink Pedestrian Project are just a few included in the list of seven provided.
The Valley Chronicle previously reported that, “SunEdison is the company leasing the 136-acres of land. The project was approved by the Hemet Planning Commission in December 2014. SunEdison had to provide a Letter of Credit for $2,133,111.00 per a city staff report as a condition of their contract. This ended up being a wise decision as the company filed Chapter 11 in April 2016.”
The solar farm is generating power for the city of Riverside. Gerald Buydos, solar program manager for Riverside Public Utilities, confirmed when we initially ran the story that the only thing they purchase is the power output from the facility.
SunEdison had until July 2016 to complete the improvements. When improvements were not completed by the deadline, the city drew from the letter of credit to cover the cost. Unfortunately, the city will also need to pull from Measure A funds to completely fund the project.

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