Monona solar panels in limbo - The Herald-Independent: Monona

Monona solar panels in limbo - The Herald-Independent: Monona

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Monona solar panels in limbo

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Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 6:15 am

The city of Monona is leading the way in what has been called a one-of-a-kind solar project in the state of Wisconsin. Solar panels are up on four buildings in the city, but without an agreement with Madison Gas & Electric (MG&E), the solar panels are useless.

Lack of an interconnection agreement with MG&E has so far prevented the operation of the panels. This project, being the first of its kind, has some uncharted territory to muddle through as the process slowly moves forward.

City Administrator Patrick Marsh says they don’t have an estimated time for when this will be resolved.

“This is the first time we’ve done something like this, so there were no real expectations for how long the process would take,” Marsh said, adding they are just waiting to hear back from MG&E now.

One area of potential confusion seems to be Wisconsin law as it pertains to solar panels not owned by the customer or the utility. In this case, they are owned by Falcon Energy Systems of Colorado. It is the largest municipal solar project to date in the state of Wisconsin, and navigating through red tape and regulations is rarely a fast process.

MG&E spokesman Steve Kraus says they met with Monona city leaders last week, and are working towards an interconnection agreement and actively exchanging information.

“The process has many requirements and procedures to follow which is why this takes time to complete,” Kraus explained, adding MG&E has many interconnection agreements with other customers, but they all have their own unique set of circumstances, so there is no one-size-fits-all template for these agreements.

The city of Monona hopes to have the solar panels up and running soon; they are ready to go as soon as the interconnection agreement is in place with MG&E.

Monona entered into a six year partnership with Falcon Energy Systems of Colorado as part of the agreement to bring the renewable energy source to the rooftops of Monona City Hall, Monona Public Library, Monona public works garage, and a lift station at the public works department well No. 3. near Broadway and the Beltline Highway.

After six years, the city can choose purchase the panels at a reduced cost, extend the agreement with Falcon Energy Systems, or end the partnership. In the meantime, the city will see reduced energy costs, while Falcon Energy Systems reaps the benefits of federal tax credits.

However, before any cost-savings is seen, the solar panels have to be up and running.

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