City of Hemet mitigates eyesore left by solar farm

Photo by Melissa Diaz Hernandez/The Valley Chronicle
The city made the improvements drawing from a letter of credit after the solar farm dropped the ball.

■ Melissa Diaz Hernandez / Editor

The long-awaited improvements to the former eyesore that lined the southwest intersection of Sanderson and Acacia Avenues are near completion. The project took almost six months to complete, far longer than expected.
The project “was originally set for 50 working days,” Senior Public Works Inspector Jaime Cruz for the Engineering Department told the newspaper. “However, delays due to an Eastern Municipal Water District waterline in Acacia, and a conflict with the Edison power lines on Acacia lengthened the schedule to approximately six months. The project is now substantially complete.”
SunEdison, the company leasing the 136-acres of land, filed Chapter 11 in April 2016, but the project was approved by the Hemet Planning Commission in December 2014. The company was restructured and out of bankruptcy as of Dec. 29, 2017, according to a Jan. 2 article by Greentech Media.
As part of the contract, SunEdison had to provide a Letter of Credit for $2,133,111. This ended up being a smart move as there were no funds for SunEdison to complete the originally agreed-upon improvements.
The Valley Chronicle previously reported, “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.”
Originally, SunEdison had until July 2016 to complete the improvements. When the solar company violated that part of their contract, the city drew from the letter of credit to cover the cost of improvements.
The project was funded by the remaining $1,960,616 of the original $2,112,316 letter of credit and $632,099.54 of Measure A funds were to be used to cover the additional costs, or so the city projected.
However, the city did not have to use Measure A funds after all.
The improvements consisted 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.
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 newspaper previously reported, “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.”

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