Tuesday, May 14th, 2013
City gives green light to solar, wind power
By William Kincaid
CELINA - Electric customers will soon be able to generate some of their own power by installing solar panels and wind turbines on their property.
City council members on Monday night unanimously passed the final reading of an ordinance adopting electrical interconnection standards for operation of customer-owned renewable energy facilities.
The legislation says the property owner must own the equipment and locate it on his or her premise. Owners could produce electricity only for their property, must meet all interconnections standards and operational requirements and be sized to offset no more than their annual energy requirements.
"Net metering participants will annually receive a billing credit for excess energy, if any delivered, to the municipal electric system," a city memo says. "The billing credit is for energy only and will be based on the city's avoidable energy and energy-related costs. No billing credit will be provided for excess energy that exceeds a customer's annual use."
Because solar panels and wind turbines only produce electricity under the right conditions, city customers will still need to remain connected to the municipal power system.
The city has secured a longtime power supply through multiple sources and is legally obligated to pay for those resources, including long-term debt, operation and maintenance expenses, capacity and transmission. The current rates are based on providing electricity to all customers.
The key is that people must understand they can't make money off the city, which is a non-profit entity, Celina Mayor Jeff Hazel has stressed at previous council meetings. Residents will continue to pay the minimum electric rate and can receive an annual credit for excess power produced through a solar system.
The capacity could be no greater than a customer's average monthly demand or 150 kilowatts, whichever is less; and the total aggregated customer-owned generating capacity is limited to no more than 1 percent of the municipal system's peak demand.
Council members on Monday night also passed the final reading of an ordinance relegating the parks and recreation director job held by Jeff Fortkamp from a salaried position to a full-time hourly position.
The change in job description and pay came about after council members last year requested that city human resources consultant Clemans-Nelson and Associates review the job description of the parks and recreation director. Consultants recommended the city change the position from salaried to hourly as it "no longer meets the Fair Labor Standard Act's requirements for an administrative exemption," the ordinance states.
Councilman Ed Jeffries cast the lone no vote.
"I voted against this twice, and the reason I (did) that was I think it's too drastic of a cut," Jeffries said before the vote.
The proposed change in job description and pay is necessary to ensure pay equity and fairness across the board of all city positions, according to Hazel.
"This is not a reprimand or anything towards Jeff Fortkamp," councilman Jeff Larmore said. "It is a point factoring that came into factor because ... the job description changed."
Fortkamp's yearly income will be reduced from an annual salary of $59,000 to $23.98 per hour or $49,000. Fortkamp may recoup some of his lost pay through overtime, which he would now be eligible to receive, Larmore pointed out to the newspaper.