Council approves $5 million contract with Opterra Energy Services |

Council approves $5 million contract with Opterra Energy Services

Monday night the Grass Valley City Council approved a $5 million contract with Opterra Energy Services, formerly known as Chevron Energy Solutions, to build three new solar arrays and overhaul the city’s lighting infrastructure with new LED technology.

The city’s cash contribution will be $800,000, and Opterra’s representatives say they can save the city $7 million dollars over the 30-year life of the equipment, and they’re guaranteeing 80 percent of that savings for 20 years. The deal is projected to offset roughly half of the city’s energy usage, reducing the estimated municipal energy costs from $500 million a year to $250, according to Opterra senior manager Ashu Jain.

“The way the guarantee works, we monitor the savings for 5 years and we guarantee 80 percent of the savings,” Jain said. “If you are missing the guarantee in any given year we will write you a check for the difference.

“We do this for five years, and if you’re missing the guarantee we’ll average the shortfall for the next 15 years,” he added.

Opterra has committed to using local contractors for the project, though it has not formally gone out to bid.

“We’ve not yet selected contractors to do the work for this project, but we’ve done some out reach,” said Annie Beasley, Opterra’s business development manager. “We’ll continue to do that in the next phase.”

“We look forward to working with city staff to maximize use of local labor,” she added.

The next step, now that the city has approved the deal, will be for Opterra to complete the engineering.

During public comment, several speakers urged the council to postpone making a decision on the matter. There were concerns, however, that delaying the decision might affect the city’s financing.

“I love the tax savings, but I am concerned with the devil in the details and not knowing what the final sum is,” said Vice Mayor Jason Fouyer. “The only thing I don’t like is that suddenly we’re backed into a corner, having to make the decision.”

The motion passed unanimously with a 5-0 vote. City Manger Bob Richardson will, however, have final review and approval over the terms and conditions of the contract.

“I think it’s a good thing for the city,” said Rob Katzenstein, a Grass Valley based solar energy contractor. “I just wish there had been time for more public dialogue among local solar providers.”

To contact Staff Writer Dave Brooksher, call 530-477-4230 or email

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