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LES board adopts renewable rate schedule

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LES solar

As part of an effort to reduce peak loads, staff at Lincoln Electric System are proposing a program in which Lincoln's largest users of electricity could agree to have their service interrupted during peak load times, when energy use reaches all-time highs, in exchange for lower monthly bills. 

The Lincoln Electric System Administrative Board on Friday unanimously approved rate schedules for renewable power generation.

LES decided to clarify its rate schedule after recent discussions with a company interested in erecting a solar array. The company and its specific plans have not been announced although the project is expected to be between 25 kilowatts and 100 kilowatts.

LES breaks the solar generators into two categories: those that produce 25 kilowatts or less and those that produce more than 25. The company has an upper limit of 100 kilowatts for solar systems.

People generally install the smaller systems to offset their own monthly power usage. The larger systems of up to 100 kilowatts produce electricity to be sold to LES rather than to offset usage.

The amount LES will pay for excess electricity generated by renewable sources will be determined by a three-tier system that incorporates factors such as when people sign up and how much total renewable generation is on the system.

LES held a public meeting on the proposed changes on Dec. 8. Fewer than 10 members of the public attended the meeting and all comments were positive.

The new renewable rate revisions are expected to go into effect Jan. 1.

The board also approved using the $10.8 million LES received from a BNSF court settlement related to coal transportation costs to fully fund its Rate Stabilization Fund, meeting its target goal of $28.5 million.

The utility uses the fund to cover one-time events such as repairs from storms. The resolution also reserves part of those funds to mitigate the need for an increase in its 2016 retail rates.

The LES board also approved some service regulation revisions including requiring mailing addresses for customers, clarifying customer responsibilities related to billing charges associated with load changes, and making it so LES employees will no longer accept payments in the field.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7304 or nbergin@journalstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ljsbergin.

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