Berlin Eyes Net Metering Rider

BERLIN — Interest among business owners and residents has Berlin officials looking into a net metering rider that would allow property owners to pay for a portion of their energy bill by generating their own electricity.

“It has to be generated through means approved by the Public Service Commission (PSA),” said Mayor Gee Williams.

There are four acceptable means of self-energy generation, according to the PSA. Biomass, fuel cells, solar and wind generators are all considered acceptable. Williams drew attention to the fact that the rider is a double benefit for residents, as it will allow them to save money on their electric bill while also making their property more environmentally friendly.

“The cost savings is the incentive … and what benefits the environment better benefits the community,” he said.

While the rider would make everything official, Williams revealed that people in town are already taking advantage of the opportunity to generate their own power. South Moon Under installed a small solar generator recently. It was largely because of their initiative that the rider came up before the council, according to Williams.

Williams added Worcester Preparatory School has also expressed an interest in generating some of its power via solar panels.

“We’re hoping South Moon Under won’t be the last,” he said.

Anyone in Berlin, whether an individual resident or a business, has the potential to install a solar, wind, or other approved generator to self-supply some of their own power. However, Electric Utilities Director Tim Lawrence clarified that anyone who would like to take advantage of the rider will need to go through an evaluation to make sure they are eligible.

“We may have to have a study done to make sure it’s not impacting the system too drastically,” he said.

Lawrence explained the study would need to be conducted on a more or less case-by-case basis, though it was only with larger systems like the one that supplies Worcester Prep where he anticipated possible complications.

If issues do arise, Williams was confident that the town would do its best to accommodate anyone interested in the program.

“We can kind of customize for situations,” he said.

The council chose to table the issue until its next meeting to allow more time for review, since Councilwoman Lisa Hall was absent and Councilwoman Paula Lynch chose to abstain from the vote.