This is a report on what is happening with Solar Energy vs. Town utilities in Lyons, and what is being discussed at Town boards this fall and winter 2020.
Some people in town have stated publicly that they heard there were changes happening to the Solar “Net Metering Policy” in Lyons. According to Aaron Caplan, Director of Utilities & Engineering, Town of Lyons, “At this time the Town has not made any changes to its electric rate structure. The Utility and Engineering Board presented the documents found at https://www.townoflyons.com/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/7752?fileID=16562 to the Board of Trustees last month. The first page gives some of the positive ideas regarding the idea of the Solar Farm, that was also factored into the rate discussion. The second page of this document goes into detail on the rate structure concerns.
Agenda: Highlights of what the document states is as follows:
(1) Proposed Town of Lyons Solar Farm Feasibility Study
• The time is ripe for increasing Lyons’ renewable energy. • The MEAN contract allows TOL to generate its own renewable energy – up to 5% of our annual usage (= ~350KW system; ~1 acre). • Preliminary feasibility of such a project looks promising – ROI could be just 10-15 years on system fully warranted for 25 years and with a productive life span of decades beyond that. • A formal feasibility study is warranted.
It continues on to state that there is support from the Colorado Governor, NOLA and CU-Denver University.
(2) Lyons Net Metering Policy Requires Changes
• Rooftop Solar installations in Lyons: 46 (as of May 2020) • Produces 3.3% of all Lyons electricity • Has produced over 20% of Lyons electricity during peak solar hours • Over 50% of solar electricity produced is excess that is credited to account holders for later usage. The excess electricity is credited at the full retail rate of $.1275 per KWH when renewable energy from MEAN is only $.043 per KWH. • Annual loss of rooftop solar revenue vs MEAN renewable is $18,000 or an average of $391 per installation. Over a 20-year period Lyons revenue will be reduced an average of $7,820 per installation. • Utility level renewable energy is much cheaper than rooftop solar
The final Recommendation on the page of the BOT is to support an ordinance change to the Lyons Net Metering policy committing to the additional time required to come up to speed on this issue.
The following are notes from the October 19 Board of Trustee Meeting: Chair Jim Kerr presented his report on the Solar Farm, and gave credit to Lee Hall, who has done the heavy lifting. He said they will go forward with a feasibility study. They have talked with DOLA and CU-Denver re $3,000 plus funds from DOLA and matching grants. Trustee Greg Lowell stated– that a Solar Farm could provide five percent; this really isn’t our energy; it goes back to the grid. Chair Kerr, replied, no, it would only benefit the Town. Three locations proposed are: the site by the dirt bike park, or the corner of the dog park, or town property up on Longs Peak Drive. Chair Kerr said that the main consideration is how close is the property to the three-phase electric and flood zones. He continued, regarding solar net metering, that they have been paying four times more for renewable energy in the past, now they will be giving full net, and they are not paying for line maintenance and salaries. More will be discussed at the next meeting.