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January 27, 2015

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Negotiations under way for more solar energy in Eldorado Valley

Boulder City will begin negotiating with Green Tech Solar to fill the expansion of the city’s energy zone in the Eldorado Valley.

Green Tech proposes to develop a 200-megawatt photovoltaic solar facility on the site. It also wants to use 50 acres to develop a possible biodiesel power plant.

The city has added another 2,000 acres on the dry lake bed for use in renewable energy projects. It had advertised for companies interested in leasing the site and received proposals from two companies: Green Tech and Martifer Renewables Solar Thermal. Martifer has proposed a three-phase solar power plant.

NextLight Renewable Power, which has signed a lease for another 1,100 acres in the city’s energy zone for a photovoltaic solar plant, also had expressed interest but withdrew from the process. The potential for flooding in the dry lakebed was a concern, Vice President James Woodruff told the Sun.

After weighing the Green Tech and Martifer proposals, the council voted 3-1 on Tuesday to begin negotiating with Green Tech, keeping open the option of talking to Martifer if the Green Tech talks break down. Councilman Travis Chandler opposed the motion. Councilwoman Linda Strickland was absent.

The council had considered both companies in June, but asked that questions about both proposals be addressed.

In response to those questions, Green Tech withdrew a request that the city help with flood control measures, included a $3 million penalty if it does not complete the project, said it would support a 1 percent per year inflation increase and offered the city up to three megawatts of power at a preferred rate. It also said it would pay the city 5 percent of its gross receipts if that is higher than the lease payments. It seeks a lease of 40 years with an option of renewing for another 40 years.

Martifer offered 4 percent of gross revenue in lieu of lease payments. It said it would be willing to negotiate an inflation adjustment; it offered an option structure in lieu of a hard lease; and it did not provide a proposed penalty if it did not complete the work.

Mayor Roger Tobler said he was glad to see Green Tech sweeten its proposal to the city.

Chandler said that while the Green Tech proposal was much better, he still preferred Martifer. He had concerns about Green Tech’s biodiesel proposal, noting that residents may have to vote to allow a use other than solar in the energy zone.

“I don’t think they’ve taken into account the political tenor of Boulder City,” he said. “I’m not so sure this would pass.”

Tobler said Green Tech put together the better proposal.

“There’s no comparison,” he said. “Martifer has put very little effort into answering the concerns we had. If it’s going to be a problem, then we’ll bring it back.”

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