TRC Swings Low on Holly Demo Bid

Council to consider Holly demo bid April 28

Holly Street Power Plant
Holly Street Power Plant

Perplexed by city staff's recommendation of TRC Environmental Corp. to demolish the Holly Street Power Plant, the Electric Util­ity Commission on Monday handed the hot potato to City Council without taking action on what has become a long, intriguing contract drama. Even in its rebid sequel, the contract award again appears to be stumbling for the same reason the city scrapped the first round of proposals – too many unanswered questions about the staff's recommendation.

City officials had also selected TRC in the first attempt to award a contract, but the company's asking price of $24.9 million, roughly $6 million more than second-ranked competitor Dixie Demolition, sparked a public outcry that forced the city to throw out the bids and restart the process. This time, TRC dropped its bid price by more than 50%, securing the lowball spot at $11.5 million. TRC received the highest score among four firms that were evaluated in a reconfigured matrix, which this time added greater weight to the price criteria, reversing staff's previous assertion that price was only one of many components considered in the selection process. At the time, TRC officials, aided by former Mayor Gus Garcia, had mounted a vigorous defense of its relatively high bid, explaining that it was a form of insurance against change orders that can markedly drive up the cost on projects.

At Monday's meeting of the Electric Utility Commission, members expressed confusion over how staff settled on TRC in spite of the curiosity surrounding its dramatic price drop. When they first considered the TRC proposal late last year, commission members voiced concerns over the high bid price but agreed to move it forward anyway with a recommendation. This time the motion – phrased as more of a finger-to-the-wind question – failed to produce a single yes vote. The proposal still goes to City Council for consideration, with or without the commission's vote of confidence, with a target date of April 28. Staff members had originally penciled in a return to council in late May, but they completed the evaluations ahead of schedule and did not conduct interviews with the top contenders, said Mary Lou Ochoa of the city's Contract and Land Management Department.

Don McGlamery, senior vice president of the fourth-ranked firm NCM Demolition and Remediation, said he was encouraged by the commission's willingness to lend public scrutiny to the TRC proposal. "We're hopeful the City Council does, too," he said.

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Holly Street Power Plant, TRC Environmental Corp., Electric Utility Commission, Dixie Demolition, NCM Demolition and Remediation

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