Provo Utah Passes Net Metering

9/23/2009

DANNY CHANDLER

Provo City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a policy which will allow simultaneous use of electricity from renewable sources and from the city.
The ordinance amends a section of the Provo City Code that formerly banned residential homes with power generators, like solar panels or windmills, from being interconnected with Provo City’s power system.
“This would really allow renewable resources to offset a portion or all of the customer’s energy expenses,” said Kevin Garlick, executive director of Provo City Electric Energy.
Under the amended ordinance, the net metering system would allow a resident to generate power and receive a credit toward future energy purchases from the utility company.
Provo residents who take advantage of the new system will be able to generate their own power during the day — when power is most expensive — and apply credit toward energy purchased from the city during the night, Mayor Lewis Billings said.
“This is more the future than people realize,” Billings said. “It’s a pretty exciting future.”
The leading cause of child death in the U.S. is respiratory illness, most of which is caused by environmentally induced asthma, said Charles Nuckolls, medical anthropologist and professor of anthropology at BYU.
“Anything we can do as a municipality to reduce our reliance on polluting fossil fuels is a benefit to the welfare of the children,” Nuckolls said.
While the net metering policy in Provo will not offer incentives or rebates for generated electricity, the council agreed that the change will be beneficial to the city and its residents.
“I hope it’s the first in a series of steps forward in the interests of Provo and the environment,” city council member Sherrie Hall Everett said.
Provisions for the net metering system include a limit of 25 kW on energy production and a $100 application fee.
“There’s a slight inconvenience to the city, and that’s the reason for the $100 fee, but really we’re all winners in this,” city council member Steve Turley said. “There is no downside to this.”
Despite the amendment’s cap on energy production and focus on residential properties, the city would welcome larger commercial projects that would generate more electricity, Garlick said.
To protect the city’s power grid, the application process will include strict interconnection requirements that would allow city officials to safely and quickly disconnect the renewable source from the city’s power grid, Garlick said.

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