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City deals with net metering, economic incentive policy

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The Delta City Council business meeting June 20 began with the appointment of Mary Cooper to fill a vacancy on the Planning Commission. Cooper served as a councilmember for 11-plus years. She replaces Gerald Roberts who was recently elected to city council.

Council finalized annexation of the Niels Addition to the city, along with an R-3 high residential zoning. There are six units on the property.

In addition, councilmembers adopted amendments to the city's renewal energy policy allowing for net metering.

The city currently has four electricity customers who self-generate electricity, generating electricity on the customer's side of an electric utility meter. Municipal Energy Association of Nebraska (MEAN), the city's purchased power provider, has adopted changes regarding self-generated electricity. The city changed its policies to conform to the MEAN policy changes.

City staff must install separate metering for self-generating customers (S-GC) to accurately account for the self-generated electricity. The S-GC will pay the cost of purchase and installation of the equipment.

If the S-GC generates electricity in excess of monthly consumption supplied and billed by the city, all such excess electrical energy, expressed in kilowatt-hours, will be carried forward from month to month and credited at a ratio of one-to-one against the S-GC's actual electrical consumption. The city will apply the credits of self-generated power annually, in March in the future.

City manager David Torgler presented a proposed economic development incentive policy for consideration by the councilmembers, noting that DCEC and Delta County are also considering similar plans.

In order to qualify for incentives a business must make a considerable investment in plant, equipment, building, operational and/or employees, creating and retaining qualifying jobs with an overall annual wage that is at or above 80 percent of the overall Delta County average annual wage rate of all commercial and industries. The business must provide ongoing company information for monitoring purposes, which will be held confidential.

Incentives would be available through partial refund of development/building permit fees, taxes and utility fees.

Councilmember Ron Austin expressed concern about the city possibly dictating wages. Torgler assured him the city would not be dictating wages, wages would be set by private business, but must be competitive.

Torgler said the city would recommend that a business or company work with Delta County Economic Development throughout the proposal process, but when the business or company was ready to seek incentives, its representative must meet with the city manager to determine eligibility and feasibility. All proposed agreements will go to city council for formal consideration.

Councilmember Ron Austin moved and Christopher Ryan seconded to proceed with developing a proposed policy which will be brought back for council's further consideration.

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