Helper looks to more green ideas
Helper Mayor Dean Armstrong, in a shift from his predecessors views, encouraged the council to adopt a policy that allows green energy produced by Helper residents and businesses to be utilized and follow Utah's net metering regulations that are in place.
According to the State Environmental Resource Center on March 15, 2002, Utah Governor Mike Levitt signed into law a bill (HB 7) requiring the state's investor-owned utilities and electric cooperatives to offer net metering to customers with solar, wind, small hydropower, or fuel cell systems of up to 25 kW in size. During each billing period, the utility must credit the customer generator for any net excess power "at a value that is at least avoided cost." The customer may use the credit to offset purchases of electricity during future billing periods in the same year. Any unused credits expire at the end of the calendar year.
The net metering law caps total participation in the program at 0.1% of the cumulative generating capacity of the utility's peak demand during 2001. Utilities are prohibited from imposing additional charges or fees on customers with net metering unless authorized by the commission according to the SERC website.
In 2009, the law was updated and several changes were made including setting the total system capacity at 20 percent of Rocky Mountain Power's peak demand. All renewable energy credits are owned by the customer. Residential customers will receive kilowatt-hour credits for any excess generation they produce. Commercial and industrial customers can choose between an avoided cost based rate or an alternative rate. RMP is required to submit a report including the number of net metering installations in Utah. A minimum bill fee was found reasonable to apply to net metering customers as well.
The need to adopt a formal policy was created a few months ago during former Mayor Mike Dalpaz's term in office. A new business came forward with the intention of putting in solar panels to generate their own power. At that time nothing was on the books in Helper concerning how to handle that request.
Denise Chavez purchased property from the city that she has been paying property tax on for some time now. The issue came to a head after it was discovered that she didn't outright own the piece. The city will retain its easements on the property if any are presently included.
A motion to allow the city recorder to purchase a new computer was approved. The total allotment was $1,800 for the purchase.
The administration fund for the city is in the black and with that a motion for banners to adorn the poles along Main Street was adopted. The total cost of the project will be $2,300. The banners will be able to be flown year round.
An ordinance to amend the purchasing policy to include language regarding the option for allowing local businesses to be awarded contracts if their bids are within 10 percent of the next bid from an out of county supplier was approved. This was done after the Price city council had some disagreement over their own policy language.
In unfinished business, the property deal with KeyBank has hit some stumbling points. Language in the contract for purchase needed to be revised in the city's opinion. Those problems will be taken care of and a solution should be reached. KeyBank has already agreed to purchase the piece of land their drive-through currently sits on.
In council reports Gary Harwood updated the council on the Gooseberry Project deadline regarding feedback that is approaching. The option to respond will be closed on June 1. Mayor Armstrong expressed his opinion that the city council should draft a letter to send in expressing the concerns of the city.
Those in attendance at the meeting were also asked if they had input regarding the matter. One member of the audience expressed that if it were completed it would dry up Carbon County, noting that the owners would get their full share before Carbon received any of theirs if the water was available after the fact. It was decided that the council would discuss it during a work meeting later in the month.