Oakmont Moving Toward Cost-Free Solar Energy

Last Updated: 09-18-19

Al Haggerty

Efforts are underway to maximize solar energy in Oakmont without imposing additional costs on the Oakmont Village Association or its residents.

OVA President Steve Spanier called these “fast-paced” efforts “truly exciting stuff” in his report to the Sept. 17 board meeting at Berger Center. “The cost of photovoltaic arrays and, more recently, the cost of and advances in battery storage technology,” he said, “mean there’s significant opportunity for both cost savings and off grid energy self-sufficiency.”

The move toward solar energy was outlined by George McKinney, chair of the Solar Subcommittee of the Long Range Planning Committee. He emphasized that his committee is “not looking at anything that would cost anyone” additional expense. He said Oakmont residents and the OVA can switch from electric to solar at no additional cost.

McKinney said Oakmont is applying for permission to install solar at the East Recreation Center. He said this will lead to more installations over time.

For OVA and Oakmont Golf Club facilities, McKinney said, solar can be installed on rooftops, on the ground or on parking lot canopies. He said OVA would work with a leasing company which would own, install and maintain the solar equipment.

Homeowners now also have more cost effective opportunities available to install solar, McKinney said. “There is an average 6-7-year payback,” if systems are purchased.  Solar batteries, especially if used in combination with natural gas generators, add additional cost, but can allow residences to operate off the grid during an outage, McKinney added.

Home solar systems also can be leased for a fixed annual fee. “The lease payment is equal to or lower than the existing electric charges,” he said.

McKinney said if his committee can organize 100 Oakmont homeowners interested in installing solar panels on their homes, they could negotiate a significant discount. He said those interested should email oakmontsolar@gmail.com. He said there have been 30 installations in Oakmont in the last year. He noted that duplexes, triplexes and quadriplexes are more complicated than single family homes. A home’s exposure can also be a problem.

McKinney said the committee hopes to have the next steps in the solar movement defined by year end and will hold a town hall when it has more information. Ken Smith and Joe Pundyk make up the committee’s technical team handling evaluations and interface with outside suppliers. Director Jess Marzak is the board liaison

OAKMONT GOLF UPDATE

            Spanier also reported on negotiations involving OVA’s planned purchase of the Oakmont Golf Club, including its two golf courses and restaurant facilities. He described OVA officials as being “deep in the weeds” of the contract and related detail. He said a significant portion of his time is spent working with attorneys and other advisors and with OGC’s board members.

“These experts,” he said, “are necessary to navigate the uncharted waters in which we find ourselves. It probably goes without saying, but none of us has ever bought a golf club before. Through patience and research, we believe we’ve rounded up a support dream team, the expertise and experience of which has been invaluable and for which we are extremely grateful.”

Spanier noted that he was responding to a resolution of the Community, Education and Transparency Committee, which was adopted unanimously, asking that the OVA board communicate by weekly Internet Eblast and the Oakmont News “to inform the community of updated progress and next steps toward buying the golf course as soon as possible”.

It has been noted that some residents have been taking walks on the golf course, apparently under the impression that the OVA already owns the courses. This is not yet the case and residents are asked to stay off the courses.

The board unanimously approved the purchase of three new pieces of equipment for the Oakmont Fitness Club for $18,712 from Fit-Tech Service Inc., Fairfield, Calif. The equipment  includes a Stairmaster 8 Series Gauntlet with an LCD display for $5,292, a Lifefitness 95R Recumbent Bike Elevation series for $3,645 and an Octane Lateral X Elliptical with smart screen for $7,955. An installation charge of $300 and $1,520 tax round out the total.