MCIA Hires an Energy Consultant for the County's Solar Projects

The Morris County Improvement Authority has voted unanimously to hire a Florham Park based engineering firm, Matrix New World Engineering, Inc., for renewable engineering consulting services for the county’s solar energy projects.

Matrix, which has experience on numerous major government projects, will review and advise the MCIA on construction management issues related to the county’s solar projects. A second consultant is expected to be hired soon to offer economic analysis and solar renewable energy credit consulting services.

Information and advice provided by these consultants will help guide the county on future steps to take regarding its existing and proposed solar energy projects.

“We are seeking to determine the viability of building out our solar projects, as planned, or whether to pull back in part or whole on those efforts,’’ said Morris County Administrator John Bonanni, who is MCIA chairman.

A specially formed committee reviewed applicants that responded to an MCIA request for proposals and recommended Matrix. That committee is now reviewing the second group of respondents for the second consulting job, with a decision likely by the end of the month.

The county freeholders, at the board’s June 10 meeting, endorsed the hiring of Matrix by a split 3-2 vote, with one abstention.

In hiring Matrix and the second consultant, the Improvement Authority is seeking to replace its current energy consultant, Gabel Associates, which offered its resignation effective June 1. Gabel has agreed to stay on for a short time until the MCIA finds a replacement.

The MCIA last month also hired Matthew Jessup, of McManimon, Scotland & Baumann, as its new general counsel, bond counsel and energy counsel, effective June 1. He replaced longtime counsel Stephen Pearlman, who recently resigned. The Authority has moved expeditiously to find a highly qualified replacements for Pearlman and Gabel Associates to ensure a smooth transition to handle key, ongoing projects.

Improvement Authority Hires Matthew Jessup as its New General, Bond and Energy Counsel

jessup
The Morris County Improvement Authority (MCIA) has voted unanimously to hire Matthew Jessup, of McManimon, Scotland & Baumann, as its new general counsel, bond counsel and energy counsel, effective June 1.

Jessup, who had served as a special MCIA consultant on its solar projects, replaces longtime counsel Stephen Pearlman, who recently resigned. The MCIA moved expeditiously to find a highly qualified replacement to ensure a smooth transition to handle key, ongoing projects.

“Matt Jessup is a well-qualified attorney with great integrity, and who also has experience with the MCIA and its solar projects, so he is an exceptional choice,’’ said Morris County Administrator John Bonanni, who is the chairman of the MCIA.

The Improvement Authority also is seeking a replacement for its energy consultant Gabel Associates, which also offered its resignation effective June 1. But Gabel has agreed to stay on for a short time until the MCIA finds a replacement.

Jessup received his law degree from the Villanova University School of Law, an M.B.A. from Villanova University and his B.B.A. degree in finance from George Washington University. He works primarily on a broad array of public finance transactions and redevelopment projects, representing many municipalities, counties, and utility and sewerage authority clients.

He was hired by the Freeholders in 2013 to work with MCIA Counsel Stephen Pearlman on the Authority’s solar/renewable energy projects.

Since the Improvement Authority was established by the Morris County Freeholders, it has been providing municipalities, school districts and the county itself with innovative and cost effective methods of funding projects and saving tax dollars at the same time. By using the MCIA and the county’s AAA Bond rating to finance projects, such as equipment and vehicle purchases and school and municipal construction, local officials have been able to cut costs and thereby and help reduce the property tax burden on residents.

For more information on the MCIA, please visit: https://improvement.morriscountynj.gov/

For more information on the MCIA’s Renewable Energy Program, please visit: https://improvement.morriscountynj.gov/2012/10/renewable-energy-program-produces.html

Improvement Authority Accepts Resignations of Its Counsel and Energy Consultant

The Morris County Improvement Authority (MCIA) has voted unanimously to accept the resignations of its longtime counsel, Stephen Pearlman, and energy consultant Gabel Associates, who both officially notified the Authority tonight that they will resign effective June 1.

The MCIA board agreed to immediately start the process of seeking replacements to ensure a smooth transition to handle key, ongoing projects.

Pearlman, of the firm Pearlman and Miranda, has been MCIA counsel since the authority was formed in 2002. In separate letters to the Authority, Pearlman and Steve Gabel, president Gabel Associates, both agreed to remain available to the county during a “reasonable transition period’’ at no cost to the county, to ensure continuity for key projects, such as the county’s Solar I and Solar II projects.

“It has been an unconditional honor and privilege to serve the Authority and its Commissioners, who give freely of their time and effort without compensation, since its inception more than a decade ago,’’ Pearlman said in his letter. “I am proud to have been associated with the Authority during this period, and will continue to value the friendships created during that span long after this association has officially ended.’’

“The firm and I greatly appreciated the opportunity to provide consulting services to the Authority,’’ wrote Gabel.

MCIA Vice-Chairwoman Christina Ramirez said Pearlman played an integral role in the creation and success of the Authority, guiding a host of projects that helped schools, towns and other government agencies finance worthwhile projects and reap substantial savings.

“Steve Pearlman has been a great asset to the MCIA and the county, helping to move us forward on many innovative and cost saving projects, benefitting many schools, towns and county government agencies, and the taxpayers of Morris County,’’ said Ramirez. “We thanks Steve for his efforts and wish him the very best. He will be tough to replace.’’

“We thank Steve Gabel and his firm for their hard work on behalf of the county’s solar projects,’’ added MCIA Member Ellen Sandman. “We will be hard pressed to replace their institutional knowledge.’’

MCIA officials this week stressed that new leadership is quickly needed to replace Pearlman as counsel, to bring on someone who is capable to guide the county on existing projects, especially its solar programs.

In response to and at the direction of previous freeholder boards, the MCIA undertook two Renewable Energy Programs. The MCIA in 2009 received approval from the State Local Finance Board for its initial Renewable Energy Program, which was the first of its kind in the nation. MCIA was able to issue bonds, guaranteed by the county, to finance a solar program, with solar panels installed on municipal school and county government buildings, with a goal of an environmental and economic benefit, in the form of lower power costs, to participants.

While, to date those programs have been able to reduce energy costs for participants by a total of $440,000 a year, the county‘s solar program has run into some significant financial and legal hurdles in recent months.

MCIA officials said yesterday the county is actively working to address all issues relating to its Solar I and II programs. That effort began with the county settling all outstanding litigation regarding the Solar II project and making a $7 million settlement to pay for construction of the completed Solar II sites.

There are several challenging issues left to be resolved — whether to build the remaining sites in Solar II, finding a replacement operator for Solar I, resolving the shortfalls in revenue necessary to pay debt service on Solar I and Solar II Bonds (projected at a $9.2 million aggregate in Solar II), and also developing a possible exit strategy from the solar business for the county.

A new Improvement Authority professional team will be key to providing guidance and advice on these issues. The county will continue to provide as information and updates to keep the public informed.

Since the Improvement Authority was established by the Morris County Freeholders, it has been providing municipalities, school districts and the county itself with innovative and cost effective methods of funding projects and saving tax dollars at the same time. By using the MCIA and the county’s AAA Bond rating to finance projects, such as equipment and vehicle purchases and school and municipal construction, local officials have been able to cut costs and thereby and help reduce the property tax burden on residents.

For more information on the MCIA, please visit: https://improvement.morriscountynj.gov/

For more information on the MCIA’s Renewable Energy Program, please visit: https://improvement.morriscountynj.gov/2012/10/renewable-energy-program-produces.html