School Committee Feud Kills High School Solar Project

A. Quincy Vale, manager, MassAmerican Energy, isn’t ruling out legal action against the city.

School Committeman Sven A. Amirian, who works for MassAmerican Energy, left the room for the vote.

School Committeman Sven A. Amirian, who works for MassAmerican Energy, left the room for the vote.

Although it won’t appear in the official record, residents can blame a feud between Haverhill School Committee members for Thursday night’s defeat of a 2.2 megawatt solar energy array atop Haverhill High School.

The feud—which began last January when some undertook an effort to prevent the reseating of then-former School Committeeman Shaun P. Toohey—was plainly evident in a split vote that killed the solar project. A similar vote along the same dividing line resulted in the appointment of Kyle A. Riley as special education director.

“We might have a right of recourse,” A. Quincy Vale, manager of solar developer MassAmerican Energy, told WHAV, hinting at legal action after the 3 to 3 vote. Vale explained the company has spent at least $60,000 on the project after winning a competitive city bid last year.

School Committee members Scott W. Wood Jr., Toohey and Maura L. Ryan-Ciardiello voted against allowing the installation of solar panels and authorizing the administration to complete agreements with MassAmerican Energy. Members Paul A. Magliocchetti, Gail M. Sullivan and Mayor James J. Fiorentini voted in favor—resulting in the tie vote. Committeeman Sven A. Amirian, who works for MassAmerican, left the room and did not participate because of conflict of interest concerns.

In January, Magliocchetti, Sullivan and Amirian, among others, challenged the long-held tradition of seating the next highest vote-getter in the most recent election—Toohey—to fill a vacancy. The school committee seat held by Joseph J. Bevilacqua opened when Bevilacqua was elected to the city council.

Haverhill Purchasing Agent and Energy Manager Orlando Pacheco advocated for the high school solar project.

Haverhill Purchasing Agent and Energy Manager Orlando Pacheco advocated for the high school solar project.

Wood said he opposed MassAmerican Energy of Marlborough, as he did in December, because he believed Amirian, as an elected official, should not financially benefit. Noting MassAmerican had created a separate holding company for the high school project, Toohey questioned what would happen if MassAmerican were to declare bankruptcy. He pointed to Missouri-based SunEdison’s April bankruptcy filing. SunEdison was the developer of a proposed solar array at Haverhill’s former Old Groveland Road landfill. Vale responded such a bankruptcy was unlikely, but even if it happened Haverhill High School would still receive a free roof and a pre-paid bond paying for the eventual dismantling of the electricity-generating array. Ryan-Ciardiello, who had laryngitis, did not speak except to vote “no” on the project.

After the vote city Purchasing Agent and Energy Manager Orlando Pacheco said, “I don’t know if there is a way to revive it there.”

Vale said he pushed for the vote because he had heard there might be a “revolt” against the project and his company needed to know before committing another $100,000 to begin installing the new roof. Besides the new school roof, he told members during his presentation, the school department would receive $22,180 per year and expected annual electricity savings of at least $143,000 at current market prices.

14 thoughts on “School Committee Feud Kills High School Solar Project

  1. Thr article in the tribune quotes the company owner saying he would pay Mr.Amirian a commission. Did Amirian run for school committwe because he cares about kids? Unlikely. He ran to make money.

  2. a few points here; the mayor hired an energy manager who knows nothing about the subject, sven is a crook, toohy must go, devlue Patrick canned j bevelaqua because he had a stroke and Haverhill lost again

    • Skiman, Did you ever Google Orlando Pacheco and his follies from the job he had before he arrived in Haverhill? Check it out….the pictures are very entertaining.
      He’s a typical Massachusetts Democrat entrenched whackjob hack……

  3. What a joke this city is. No wonder we are stuck in the mud here. Petty child like fights still rule the roost. Wake up you idiots. Stop creating chaos and do what is best for the city and not your own agendas.

  4. “Wood said he opposed MassAmerican Energy of Marlborough, as he did in December, because he believed Amirian, as an elected official, should not financially benefit.” –

    This is a rich statement because Massachusetts “pay-to-play” and extreme nepotism rules this state and its politics. Even more so as Haverhill could be considered ground zero of such thanks to Brian Dempsey who controls the purse strings of this entire state.

  5. Wally, you think it’s ok for elected officials to make money off deals they have inside info on? You think it’s a coincidence Sven Amirian gets elected than goes for a multi million dollar contract with the schools? This is why politicians are hated, he doesn’t care about the schools. He cares about making money

    • Can you prove he is making money on this project ? Look at what the city is getting and tell me that isn’t a good deal. This company even has an exit plan if they go bankrupt. It is local politics and Wally is correct. The Ryan clan is a nasty revengeful bunch who can put their own interests above any of the city’s. Just because someone works for a company does not mean they are profiting directly from a contract. I bet we could connect plenty of people using that thought process Jack. How about Sven seeing an opportunity to get benefits for the school and city ? Maybe it was the best deal out of any other company ?? Do we know this ?

    • Jack, you asked a great question about a city official “making money” they are involved with. I’ve been saying the same thing about Orlando Pacheco. He was hired on the basis of his compensation being based on a salary and “incentives” for the programs he develops. All of a sudden the city has all kinds of energy programs promoting grossly inflated savings and even intentional lying. I’ve been asking the question of exactly how he gets paid. If it is based on “expected” savings he’s sucking the city dry because the numbers just don’t add up.

  6. C’mon people! It’s Ryan family politics that is putting our kids education at risk so that they can exact revenge against school board members who didn’t want to put a discredited Ryan clam member on the board after he was rejected. Somebody needs to take a stand and point out that this is pure gutter politics by the kinfolk of W.H. Ryan and it needs to be stopped.

    • I voted for Sven and I haven’t seen him do anything adverse. This was more politicking imo, and his business relationship was known way before elections. If there is a shining example of what crony capitalism truly looks like, including a no-bid contract, there’s a building being built I’m sure all are familiar with by now.

      • Duncan you can’t ever say your wrong. His relationship is known, are you saying elected officials should be able to use their position to secure contracts that make them money?

        • I could be wrong and I point out almost daily how politicians use their influence to enable crony capitalism further. Have you talked to Sven personally? I have, and this was a non-issue for me. Let’s also be clear, before the BK, Sven’s company LOST the bid, so I think you’re overestimating his influence.

          If this is an issue for you, call him up or set up a meeting, I do, even with those I completely disagree with, sans The Mayor because I simply do not trust the man. In Brian Dempsey’s case, the man is a liar and a deceiver, so I wouldn’t waste my time with him either.