Geneva seeks analysis to see how much solar, wind energy its system can host

City code limits solar, wind capacity to 2%

GENEVA – Aldermen recommended the city enter into an agreement with an engineering company to analyze the electric utility’s capacity to host interconnected power generation from rooftop solar installations.

Acting as the Committee of the Whole on July 19, aldermen recommended a contract with Stanley Consultants Inc., a global engineering service provider with an office in Chicago, for $39,700.

Superintendent of Electrical Services Aaron Holton said the city’s electrical system is limited by the city’s code to 2% of the system peak demand for metered solar and wind power.

“What we’re really concerned about here is how much solar can we put on this system?” Holton said. “We have this 2% cap. Nobody’s real sure where that 2% came from. … The goal of this study is to give us the information to see how much load – how much net generation – we could put in each individual feeder.”

The 2% cap is a system-wide limitation that does not reflect its actual capacity to “host” interconnected generation, Holton wrote in a memo to the council.

“The 2% cap is likely to become a limitation on the amount of net metering that can be installed and would severely limit the deployment of roof top solar and other renewable technologies,” Holton’s memo stated. “For example, if a single customer installs a large amount of net metered solar, the city would not be able to allow more installations.”

Stanley, which has done consulting work for the city in the past, will provide a detailed model of the Geneva electrical system and its loading information, Holton said.

“We can go about planning for more solar generation out on the system, and also if we need to do any upgrades to be able to host more – we’ll be able to use this information for planning purposes in the future,” Holton said

Aldermen voted 6-3 with one absent to recommend approval of the Stanley contract.

Fifth Ward Alderman Robert Swanson said he would not vote to approve the contract as presented without a detailed breakdown of the hours.

Holton said he would have the company provide it before the next City Council meeting.

First Ward Alderman Tara Burghart and 3rd Ward Alderman Becky Hruby also voted no; 4th Ward Alderman Amy Mayer was absent.