EL CENTRO – During its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors was presented with a report that rebuts the November 26 news article published by the Desert Sun that claims the district “left millions on the table” when it agreed to sell 1,400 acres of farmland to a solar developer in 2011, according to a news release from the IID offices.
Attorney Mike Aguirre, who has been retained by the board to investigate media accounts and questions raised as to the nature of the relationship between the IID and consultant Zglobal, provided the board with Interim Report No. 3, which details the sale of the property. A certified fraud investigator, Aguirre concluded the allegation that IID left millions of on the table is “factually incorrect”, the release said.
According to the news release, Aguirre went into great detail in his report explaining how the developer secured a power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric –enabling it to sell the property for more money than when it was owned by IID. At the time of the sale of the 1,942 acres, not 1,400 acres, IID relied on comparable sales for similar lands, the release said.
The premise of the allegations—that the IID board left several million dollars on the table in connection with the Solar Gen 2 land deal—is not correct, according to the release. As detailed in the report, “the financial details of the land sale, achievement of IID’s overarching goal of facilitating transmission connections to the California Independent System Operator, and the realization of water transfer savings all support the conclusion that the Solar Gen 2 transaction was a sound and prudent exercise of the IID board’s business judgment.”
IID Director Erik Ortega, who was not on the board at the time of the deal, noted the water rights retention and how that created almost “$50 million in savings to the district. It’s important that the public understand this, so they have a better understanding of why this was not a bad deal.”
Director James Hanks further added, “I was on the board at the time of the vote. When it was sold, this land and the surrounding land was being sold as farmland. Of all the parcels that were sold, the added value that this property brought by connecting IID to the CAISO grid, gave us the highest rate of return as compared to the 20,000+ acres that were sold. It was a tremendous deal for both our energy and water ratepayers.”