The Imperial Irrigation District is paying energy consulting firm ZGlobal, Inc., $2.89 million for one year’s worth of engineering and planning services for the IID Energy Department, according to documents released by the district at The Desert Review’s request.
The contract, which involves services related to the transmission of electric power, is for the period of Oct. 19, 2015 to Oct. 19, 2016, documents show.
Meanwhile, IID General Manager Kevin Kelley and the current board are just the latest IID management team to choose ZGlobal to assist the Energy Department. Documents released by IID at The Desert Review’s request show the district has entered into at least 19 service agreements with the firm since November 2005 with a total value of about $10.6 million. The work covers a broad range of matters involving electric-power transmission.
Further information about the previous agreements was not immediately available.
IID board approval of the most recent agreement with ZGlobal was announced by district General Counsel Ross Simmons at an Oct. 20 board meeting, according to meeting minutes. He stated the vote was 4-0-1 with Director Bruce Kuhn abstaining.
The ZGlobal agreement occurred simultaneous to a high-level shakeup in the Energy Department and Kelley later confirmed the two are related. In an Oct. 16 press release, IID announced that Vicken Kasarjian had been hired to be the Energy Department manager in charge of transmission and planning and that Carl Stills, who previous to Kasarjian’s hiring had been sole head of Energy, was to be responsible for energy operations.
At the Oct. 20 meeting Simmons stated Kasarjian’s hiring was approved unanimously by the board. He added both Kasarjian’s hiring and the ZGlobal contract were approved in a closed session meeting on Oct. 12 but that the announcement was delayed. He did not specify why.
The press release also stated several employees who work in the transmission, planning and engineering sections had been placed on paid administrative leave. No further information was provided, but a Desert Review inquiry later uncovered the action involved five high-level energy staffers, four of whom were given notice of termination in December. A fifth applied for retirement.
When asked in an interview who would be assuming the duties of the departed staffers, Kelley said they are covered under the ZGlobal contract. While Kelley has lauded Kasarjian and expressed confidence in ZGlobal, the moves to oust the senior energy staffers is controversial. Sources who have spoken to the Desert Review on the condition anonymity said Stills and his team were making great strides in improving IID’s electric-power transmission and that their removal and replacement were a step backward.
Meanwhile, documents released by IID show Kasarjian is being paid $218,000 per year under a three-year contract. He is eligible for IID health benefits and would receive $25,000 for relocation assistance upon request.
Kasarjian has extensive experience in a 30-year career, which Kelley confirmed includes a recent stint as a consultant for ZGlobal.
Kasarjian’s power at IID was expanded when, effective Jan. 4, he became sole manager of the Energy Department, according to a memo from Kelley to IID employees that Kelley’s office e-mailed to The Desert Review. The former manager, Stills, was moved to head the management of projects.
The service agreement and master agreement related to the most recent ZGlobal contract details the work the firm will do. ZGlobal “will designate six employees, located full-time in Imperial County and dedicated exclusively to IID matters to the exclusion of ZG matters…reporting to IID’s manager of Energy Transmission and Planning,” the master agreement states. Hourly rates range from $175 to $334.
ZGlobal is based in Folsom. Its president and chief executive officer is Ziad Alaywan. The firm’s website, zglobsal.biz, describes its work as “a commitment to providing our energy sector clients with practical solutions based on an essential balance between sound engineering principles and financial realities.” It lists dozens of clients, including utilities, major energy firms and government agencies.