City implements 60-day moratorium to halt renewable power generation

    Locals looking to put a dent in their power bills with solar will have to hold off following a vote by Holyoke City Council to approve a 60-day ban on renewable generation.
    The moratorium was voted on during the council’s regular meeting last Tuesday, May 7, and extends to all types of renewable energy, including, hypothetically, wind and some hydroelectric power.
    The council cited concerns over how private power systems will interact with the municipal grid if locals want to transfer excess power back to the City. Council members said they will take the two-month window to draft and vote on necessary regulations.
    A work session attended by Rich Andrysik of NMPP Energy, which supplements the power that the city receives through the Western Area Power Administration, and local Jennifer Hayes preceded the meeting and the council vote.
    Andrysik presented a draft policy to the council and discussed possible positions that the city could take, including net metering and energy purchase agreements.
    Net metering would use a bidirectional meter to calculate the amount of power received versus the amount of power contributed by a customer, and customers would only be billed for the net amount used or receive the surplus energy as a credit.
    In an energy purchase agreement, customers would be treated like individual “power plants,” and the City would purchase energy from them directly.
    Limits on the amount of power that individuals could generate were also proposed. Andrysik also stressed the importance of mandating that customer-owned generators have a lockable disconnect switch to protect personnel working on power lines.
    Hayes is one of the first people to approach the City about connecting a private solar power system to the grid, and the first to proceed with such a plan. Between Hayes, her husband and their eight children, the Hayes residence consumes a large amount of power, and they are looking to reduce their energy costs in part by installing solar panels.
    “We didn’t get into this to make money,” Hayes said. “We’re more looking to offset the cost of electricity for us.”
    However, since the City hasn’t approved an interconnection policy, City Superintendent Mark Brown said connecting a system like theirs isn’t possible yet.

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