Solar power discussions increase

When William Boyd wanted to place solar panels on his Troy home, he asked the neighbors for their thoughts.

Armed with a listing of 20 properties near his Brook Park Drive residence, all agreeing to the request, Boyd secured the approval of his project Nov. 11 from the Troy Planning Commission.

The city code governing solar panels says they shall be placed in a way so they are not visible from the public right of way “except as otherwise approved by the Planning Commission.”

City staff said in its report that Boyd’s proposal would have visible panels because his house faces south and southern exposures are best to receive the southern exposures.

The staff recommended approval, noting the city’s comprehensive plan encourages those building new or renovating to take advantage of alternative energy sources. Staff also cited the approval of neighbors.

Solar energy also was the topic of discussion earlier this month in Tipp City, where the City Council was asked to consider options for metering power from residential solar units. The difference between the Troy and Tipp City discussion was Tipp City owns it municipal power system.

Tipp City needs a policy to address the issue of customer generation, Eric Mack, Tipp City’s deputy director of municipal services, said.

“We need a policy in place. We are not calling it solar, but instead net metering for generation. It could be wind, solar, a generator installed by a resident,” Mack said.

Council did not decide which direction it will go with the policy. The city currently has two electric customers who have installed residential solar rays, while a third is in the planning stages, Mack said.

He said a check with other communities with municipal owned systems showed they are split about evenly between three options. Those options are:

• The customer can reduce the bill down to zero consumption monthly. The customer will not be compensated for any additional electric generated, or put back on the system.

• For a customer who generates more kilowatt-hours than consumed in a month, the excess kwh generated would roll forward to offset the next month’s consumption. At the end of the year the kwh balance is zeroed out and starts over the following year.

• A customer would be billed based on the net kwh consumed or generated. Customers consuming more kwh than generated would be billed on existing policy. If customer has produced more kwh than received from the city electric system, then a kwh rate would be set by the council and used to calculate a credit. The customer could apply for a refund once a year.

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