During its final meeting of the month, the Washington Council had a long discussion on an ordinance that could bring net energy metering to the city. but there are still a lot of questions some council members would like to have answered before giving final approval.

Mayor Joe Wellman said the possibility of net metering was brought up about a year ago.

“This tries to get ahead of the curve as more and more people want to put solar panels on their roof,” said Wellman of the ordinance the Indiana Municipal Power Agency or IMPA, the energy agency the city’s electricity is supplied by, recommended.

As the ordinance was presented, customers with solar panels or other alternative energy sources would pay a $50 per month fee which would compensate the city for having to maintain lines and poles running to the home or business. Customers could not generate more than 10 kilowatts of electricity in a month. Any electricity generated over the 10 kilowatts would be sold back to IMPA and the customer would receive a credit on his or her bill. IMPA said 10 kilowatts was typically enough electricity to run lights, the refrigerator and many other things but likely not enough to heat water and run the air conditioning.

While the ordinance has already been passed in several other communities IMPA serves, a couple of council members had reservations.

“I’m all for the concept of net metering but I’ve got to do some more research,” said Councilman Mike Singleton.

One of Singleton’s concerns was the $50 monthly fee.

“I’ve got a brother-in-law in Chicago who has solar panels and their monthly fee is $15,” he said.

City Utilities Manager Anita Ash said the price difference is likely based on the number of customers in an area.

Singleton said he felt like IMPA built the solar field just outside of Washington to protect the environment but now the company doesn’t want to lose money so it’s going to charge customers who choose to generate some of their own electricity.

“It’s like having an electric car. You can’t be charged road tax so they want to charge you $150 to make up for that,” he said.

The statement was something Councilman Blake Chambers said he kind of agreed with.

“I’m sort of with Mike on this. If people want to do this (have solar panels or other alternative forms of energy), they want to save money,” said Chambers. “The way this is set up, it’s going to be a wash. We need to find out what other towns are doing.”

Electric Superintendent Randy Emmons said he would check to see what other towns were doing. The ordinance will be up for adoption at the next meeting on Feb. 13.

Board of Public Works and Safety

The Board of Public Works and Safety tabled a request from Dave Crooks with DLC Media for a street closure on May 6 for the second annual 107.9 Mini Cruiz-in. Board members and city Fire Chief Dave Rhoads were concerned about traffic on Main Street since the Knights of Columbus Treasure Hunt was scheduled for the same day.

The board requested Crooks contact the K of C so the two events could possibly be coordinated.

A transformer agreement for M & C Tech was also approved. The city and the company will split the cost of the $17,000 transformer.

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