IID rebuts Desert Sun reporting

17


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.”

17 COMMENTS

  1. This is the same guy hired to cover up the trading floor scandal. Appears to be an attempt of GM to use biased report paid with ratepayer money to save his hide again. Aren’t we tired of these shenanigans?

  2. What a waste of rate payer funds. Hiring an attorney to pay him to say what the Board and GM wants to hear. Do a real investigation; ask the state to investigate IID. It is obvious ZGlobal, the GM and Board are scared as the standard of care is an apperance of conflict and all the various items exposed exceed appearance.

  3. Your paper really shows your bias.

    “Rebuts” – at best a claim.

    “Inaccurate”. How was that conclusion reached?

    Suggestions:

    “IID hired gun slants investigation in sorry attempt to sway public”

    “IID bias is evident in attempt to undermine investigative journalism”

    “Fake news; IID is not conflicted in hiring and managing its own internal investigator”

  4. IID rate payer subsidization:

    1. The land sale.

    2. Funding the solar substations that truly only benefit the solar projects.

    3. Wheeling rates below costs. See the 2011 Exeter report commissioned by IID.

    Is the board clueless or is this motive? Hiring and managing the investigator shows motive. If someone commits a crime I’m sure they would love to hand select, manage and pay the salary of their judge and jury?

  5. A few key points:

    1. It is easy to hire an investigator to say what you want. Fox guarding the hen house – there is no independence.

    2. The land was being sold for solar value and not farmland. The valuations show it should have sold for at least twice the value received.

    3. IID at best breaks even from wheeling revenues (a legal requirement) so there is no way sale of land on the cheap to encourage solar development can benefit IID and rate payers. At best IID can break even. With the sale of the land below market that sale results in subsidization by IID rate payers.

  6. The problem I see is that they keep trying to misdirect the public from the real issue: Did you sell the land for less money than it is worth?
    They literally spent like 30 seconds on the topic of property’s sale, briefly mentioning it was sold as farmland, and focused the rest of their time on the benefits that they reaped.
    Problem that I see with this argument is:
    This was not an issue is of “give and take” – meaning that they needed to sell the land dirt cheap in order to reap the benefits that they repeatedly rammed down the public’s throat. If this was the case – they never maid that argument.
    They new dam well they were NOT selling to some poor old farmers – they knew exactly who they were selling to. Kuhn even talked the strategic VALUE of the land. Not its his fault, he wasn’t there when it happened.
    Company’s buy land like this all the time because it has future potential value. To equate the sale of this land as if they were just selling to another farmer is wrong.

LEAVE A REPLY