Whitehall-Coplay Press

Saturday, September 22, 2018

CWSA explores solar power plan

Wednesday, June 27, 2018 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

Pump station project estimated at $130,000

Coplay Whitehall Sewer Authority Engineer Darryl Jenkins gave a report on a proposed solar power project at the authority’s regular meeting June 21.

Last year, the board received a proposal for a solar panel project, but the supplier was unable to meet the board’s requirements for an American-made panel. The supplier ultimately went out of business.

Jenkins used his contacts at RER Energy to resurrect the proposal. The Reading-based company has a good reputation and produced a proposal that would offset 60 percent of the power consumption at the pump station.

Based on RER’s plan, the estimated cost is $111,000. Credits bring the direct cost down to $106,000. There is site work required to install the panels, which brings the cost up to an estimated $130,000.

According to Jenkins, the payback period is about 30 years. RER’s proposal is $35,000 less than the prior proposal. Although Jenkins could not promise any firm guarantees, there is a warranty period.

The most frequently asked question was about the stability of RER. Again, there were no guarantees made, but Jenkins said RER is a regional player in the solar energy business.

The proposed contract calls for a turnkey solution where performance is monitored by RER and service is dispatched from a certified source.

Jenkins relayed to the board that RER was reluctant to bid on the first proposal to avoid a potential conflict of interest because it is an approved vendor with SSM Group, with which Jenkins works. RER has installed large systems for various municipal customers and large corporate clients. RER is broadening its horizons to include projects similar to CWSA’s pump station proposal.

In other business, Jenkins asked the board to approve a substantial completion certificate for the Front Street project in Coplay. The project is long passed its completion estimate, and there are still items on the list that remain undone. Officially, the project is past a revised due date of May 30.

“The project was not done well and not well supervised. This was a long, ugly road,” said Paul Boyle, board member.

The projected completion at the beginning of the project was November 2016. The contractor ran into multiple problems related to poor soils and an improperly engineered road base. Much of the latest delay is caused by poor workmanship that needed to be torn out and reworked.

The board was not inclined to approve substantial completion. Funds can be released once substantial completion is identified, but the board is leery of the contractor’s ability to get the project completed. The board did ask John Stover, CWSA’s solicitor, to prepare a letter to the contractor notifying the company that CWSA will pursue its contract rights and ask for reimbursement for the delay.