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Rules cast solar in a new light

Staff writer

Greg Carlson has considered adding solar at Carlsons’ Grocery to offset his electric bills, which run $8,000 to $9,000 a month.

“We had a guy give us a bid to do it,” Carlson said. “There’s a lot of state funding and government funding, but I don’t know at my age if I want to get into that.”

He’s close to retirement, he said, and “I don’t want to have debt.”

He thinks that an investment in solar for his 10,000-square-foot building would have a five-year payoff.

Marion City Council passed two ordinances last week about standards for installation and “parallel operation” of customer-owned renewable generation facilities.

Kansas Power Pool’s Brooke Carroll, director of member services, and James Ging, director of engineering services, were on hand to answer questions about their proposals for the city to adopt. KPP Energy provides electricity to Marion.

Residential customers who want to install an energy-producing system or renewable generator with a capacity of 25 kilowatts or less and commercial customers who want to do so with a capacity of 200 kilowatts or less must apply and agree to meet standards.

Customers must be in good standing, have a working meter that can register flow of electricity in each direction, supply a suitable location for meters and equipment used for billing and for load research, and pay all costs related to installing such a meter.

A non-refundable interconnection application fee of $500 will be assessed for residential and commercial customers.

State law requires that Marion allow customers to use solar capability.

City building inspector James Masters, who has done electrical inspections for about seven years, said: “It’s just been solar, solar, solar. I believe in solar. I believe the right place for solar is on a homeowner’s roof.”

Hillsboro passed similar ordinances, according to city administrator Matt Stiles.

Hillsboro initially had net metering — inadvertently, Stiles said. Under that type of arrangement, if a solar system generated 1 kilowatt-hour, the city would take 1 kilowatt-hour off the customer’s bill.

It now uses parallel connection.

“People can generate electricity, and the city buys back up to 5% of average load. But it’s been not anywhere near that,” he said.

Parallel generation is “less favorable for the homeowner, but it’s more fair for the utility,” Stiles said.

A $500 fee hasn’t been controversial in Hillsboro, he said.

Last modified April 27, 2023

 

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