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Water deal looks to flush out debt issues

Officials organize leadership to help turn Central California plant into cooperative moneymaker

Posted: June 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

Local water officials, having firmed up a closer relationship with the Devil’s Den Water District, are now working to transform the former cotton farm into a juggernaut of power, water, energy and savings.

Members of the Upper Santa Clara Valley Joint Powers Authority met for the first time last week to appoint a president and vice president and set the wheels in motion to, among other things, pay down the debt of the Castaic Lake Water Agency.

The authority, including members of the district and the agency, plan to pay down debt by allowing the agency to issue revenue bonds.

Thomas Campbell and William Cooper, both members of the Castaic Lake Water Agency, were named president and vice president, respectively, of the Upper Santa Clara Valley Joint Powers Authority.

“It’s a mouthful,” Campbell said of the authority’s name.

“Our first meeting was pretty routine,” Campbell said Saturday. “It’s all procedural at this point.”

Devil’s Den is about 130 miles north of Santa Clarita, just north and west of where Interstate 5 crosses the Paso Robles Highway

Debt management
The whole point of forming the joint-powers authority was to give water officials the power to issue revenue bonds to better manage debt.

“We want to see if we can take advantage of that bond option,” Campbell said.

Officials representing both water agencies were buoyed going into the meeting, having  recently entered into talks with an international solar-panel company.

SunPower Corporation, with state offices in Richmond, Roseville and Irvine, was recently selected by agency board members to propose, then build, a utility-scale electricity-generating project at the Devil’s Den site.

The agency and SunPower are working on an agreement for the lease of Devil’s Den property to accommodate the SunPower solar project, said Jeff Ford, the agency’s principal water resources planner.

“They have been doing an evaluation of the transmission infrastructure and electrical demand and have been evaluating the progress of the California Independent System Operator queue list, which prioritizes the energy projects likely to be built,” he said. 

“Knowing this would allow SunPower to decipher the needed new infrastructure and evaluate the size and timing for any solar project at the Devil’s Den site.”

Solar-panel leader
SunPower, which began developing solar technology in the 1970s, now has offices in Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland, as well as Singapore, Korea, and Australia.

Last month, the company designed and outfitted the top of a Macy’s building in Arizona — which is the size of a football field — with a 3.5 megawatt rooftop solar power system.

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