BERLIN — Although the Town Council was still unable to hold a vote on the proposed net metering measure because it lacked a quorum, members heard testimony from Dwight Davis of energy consultant company Booth and Associates about the reasons and necessity of passing the measure.
Net metering is a process by which an electric company gages the amount of energy put back into the system by alternative power sources — solar, wind, etc. — so it may return funds, when necessary and appropriate to the home or business generating excess energy.
Maryland rules make it mandatory that any electric company receiving extra generation from alternative power source users must be willing to reimburse them up to 200 percent of their usage annually.
Although it is rare and even unlikely that a regular customer could generate that much power, the cap is necessary to keep customers from selling to their neighbors, for example and also as a hedge against overproduction.
“This was intended to be mainly for customers for their own use,” Davis said. “[But] it’s an economic issue from the town’s standpoint,” Davis said.
Each April, if a customer generates more than they use, the utility must pay the customer for that extra energy.
Paying for and installing the equipment needed to take the measurements, however, is the responsibility of the customer. Each utility, in this case the Berlin Electric Company, sets the standards for the measuring apparatus. It is a process the town has gone through before but has yet to be codified.
At its last meeting the Council was forced to table the matter because only three of the members are eligible to vote on it, Councilwoman Paula Lynch and Councilman Troy Purnell have indicated they will abstain. Each is involved with the Worcester Preparatory School, which is planning to add solar panels.
Although she didn’t intend to vote on the matter, it was Lynch who wanted to ensure that as part of the new rules the customer, not the Town, was responsible to pay for the metering equipment. Providing they can achieve a quorum at the Jan. 23 meeting the measure is expected to pass easily and without objection.
In other news, the Council directed Police Chief Arnold Downing and Public Works Director Mike Gibbons to work together to erect “No Parking” signs and have the curb painted red along the east side of Pitts Street between the corner of William Street and Stuart’s Antiques.
The Town Council earlier this fall elected to enact that parking ban, citing the fact that with cars parked on both sides of the street it became impassable for two cars at once.
The Council decided to suspend their decision while workers completed the renovation of the Donaway Warehouse that takes up a significant section of the block and the new tenants moved in.
Town Center Antiques II moved all of their vendors over the Christmas-New Year’s break and, now that they have settled in, the No Parking rules will be enforced.
Town Administrator Tony Carson told the Mayor and Council that the Town’s application to participate in Sustainable Maryland was received and being processed.
Last year, the Town became the first community in the state to register for the Sustainable Maryland Certified (SMC) initiative. Sponsored and administrated by the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center (UMEFC), the same group helping with Berlin meeting its stormwater management goals, the program is aimed at helping towns find ways to be environmentally conscious. SMC is not mandatory, nor is there any plan to make it so, according to UMEFC.
“Our goal was the first to submit the application,” Carson said.
Since the Town staff met that goal it is likely that Berlin will be the first town in the state to be certified under the new program.