Dennis Svanes, GM/CEO
Our cooperative is facing a challenge hosting new net metering/co-generation services in some areas of our system. What does this mean? Net metering/co-gen accounts, which consist primarily of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation and a few wind turbines on 4 Rivers' system, produce electricity when the sun is shining, or the wind is blowing, regardless of the consumer demand on the grid at that time.
Historically, when we analyze our system's capacity and demand needs, we are checking to see what is needed during the highest peak hour of the year to ensure we can provide reliable power to you, our members, when demand for power is high. However, with net metering/co-gen accounts, we must consider how to accommodate the times when member demand is low, and we have a large amount of energy being generated onto a system that needs to be consuming the energy produced.
If there is more energy being produced than consumed on a system, reliable power quality is affected. Currently, this concern is localized to a few areas on 4 Rivers’ system where specific substations, feeders, or phases are approaching the point where they have more generation than they will have demand during some points of the year when sun and wind are abundant and consumer usage is lower, like the “shoulder months” of April and May. Currently, we are completing an engineering study to determine where additional net/co-gen services can be hosted by 4 Rivers and where the system is currently at maximum net/co-gen capacity.
4 Rivers' two solar farms, one at our Studebaker substation near Fredonia and the other at our Americus substation north of Emporia, both have sophisticated controls to shut down generation if power production exceeds consumption. Residential units typically do not have this type of shutoff capability.
If you are considering installation of solar, wind or battery generation, please call and discuss your options before you begin installation. We can provide consumption data for your location and information on system capacity for additional generation, if available in your area. We can also help you evaluate the economics of installing home energy generation.