City to buy power from solar panels

Should more people in the city acquire solar panels in the future, the city is preparing to offer a new small power electric rate.

City Council was presented with legislation this week that establishes a new small power rate, which City Manager Lance Willard said is necessary for city utility customers who have solar panels with the ability to feed back into the city’s grid.

He said there is only one customer with solar panels in the city at this point.

Under the legislation the city would be able to enter into interconnection agreements with solar panel users to install and operate a small power production facility behind the customer’s meter. What this means is that any power generated by the solar panels that is not consumed by the household would go into the grid connect system and then be fed into the mains power grid, with the city providing a monthly payment to the customer for the power supplied.

The payment would be determined by the kilowatt-hours of energy supplied by the small power production facility multiplied by the city’s average power supply costs for the month before. Energy supplied by the small power production facility would be determined through bi-directional metering installed at the point of interconnection, and will reflect only the amount of energy delivered to the city. All energy supplied to the customer by the city would be billed along the city’s applicable rate schedule, according to the legislation.

The new rate is one of the other new rates implemented by the city over the last two years following a rate study by Courtney and Associates in 2014. The city operates its own utility but purchases power through American Municipal Power. Council imposed a new fixed per-kilowatt-hour rate for residential and commercial users back in 2016.

A new large power rate was implemented earlier this year using a formula based on demand and power costs. The city hoped the new rate would attract more industrial business to the area.

A second reading of the legislation establishing the new small power rate is required before a formal vote from council.