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Before going solar, check out new city policy

Recent legislation makes it easier for Georgia consumers to finance solar systems and the city of Cairo is wasting no time in putting a policy in place to govern city residents who install solar or wind generation systems at their homes.
The city council unanimously approved the new policy as recommended by City Manager Chris Addleton and Energy Services Director Rod Prince Monday.
While such systems can reduce a consumer’s requirement for electric power, city officials are quick to point out they will not allow residents to come off the electric grid completely.
These power generation systems, under the city’s policy, are restricted to peak generating capacity of not more than 10 kW for residential applications and not more than 100 kW for commercial applications.
Under the policy adopted Monday, the city will install single directional metering or bi-directional metering depending on the customer’s method of installation and all must be done at the customer’s expense.
The city is required to purchase excess power from residents with power generation capacity on a first-come, first-served basis until the cumulative generating capacity of all renewable energy sources from all customers equals 0.2 percent of the city’s annual peak demand from the previous year.
Consumers who use more electricity than they generate will be billed accordingly by the city. When the consumer generates more power than what is supplied by the city, the city will credit the customer for the excess kWh for that period.
Public Service Commissioner Stan Wise recently wrote a column warning Georgia consumers about claims made by unscrupulous marketers with offers to go solar and eliminate their monthly electric bill.
According to Wise, a rooftop system capable of generating 7 kW costs $16,800. He notes it would take 14 years to break even and that does not include maintenance and repairs to the system during that period.
Wise also warns that if consumers cut down trees to gain additional sunlight during the day they could also be eliminating cooling shade, which helps reduce home cooling costs.
At the Cairo City Council’s meeting two weeks ago, Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas stated, “The problem will be fly-by-night solar companies that sell or lease the solar panel system. They come in here and get people to sign documents, get paid and they’re gone and the consumer finds out it’s not quite the way they said.”
Energy Services Director Prince also noted that when homes need to be re-roofed it will be the responsibility of the homeowner to have the panels removed for the roof work to take place and then have the panels reinstalled.
“It’s not as attractive as it sounds,” Prince said.

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