Solar field lease OK’d
The city of Venice agreed this week to lease a stormwater pond to Sharky’s on the Pier Restaurant. Pier Group, which owns the restaurant, plans to build a solar field close to the Gulf.
Venice City Council approved the lease unanimously Tuesday.
Council Member Jeanette Gates recused herself, citing a conflict of interest as her husband’s construction company, Beachwood Builders, will help construct the solar field.
Under the lease, Venice Pier Group will construct a minimum 25 kilowatt solar panel field within three years. But Pier Group’s Mike Pachota said he hopes to go green within four months — if he can secure the necessary permits.
“We’re a lot further along than we ever thought we would get,” Pachota said. “It could be considered a minor structure (by state permitting authorities) since it’s not really a building. So they could approve it in 30 days. You just never know when it comes to the state.
“We’ve worked hard to get this far, so I hope we can keep the ball rolling.”
Pachota anticipates saving between $300 and $500 monthly on Sharky’s electric bill, and paying off the installation by year 14 of the lease.
The contract is for 10 years with two 10-year options. Pier Group will pay the city $10 annually plus 1 percent of gross electricity produced by the solar field at the current FPL rate for Sharky’s, estimated at $260 annually. That gets upped to 5 percent after 10 years.
The real value to the city will come from the two free electric vehicle chargers Pier Group will install. That’s a $20 per day value for the city, Pachota estimated. The free charging stations — one for an automobile and one for an electric golf cart — would be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, at a minimum.
Even more valuable may be the PR the city anticipates it will receive by promoting alternative power generation from an otherwise unusable stormwater pond. It recently opened two electric vehicle charging stations in Centennial Park downtown.
The FAA will review the lease for safety considerations, but not to ensure the municipal airport is receiving fair market value for the lease. It’s an issue still brewing with Sharky’s, which is located on airport property. The city will likely renegotiate that lease upward in coming months based upon a recent appraisal.
The solar field, which cannot be subleased or otherwise transferred, will be roughly 8,200 square feet, set into the corner of an existing retention pond just north of the restaurant.