Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) staff will present on Thursday to the city commission and explain policy choices concerning how much solar power homeowners can add to the grid.
Currently, GRU limits homes with solar power from adding to the grid if the addition pushes that circuit over 2 megawatts. Gainesville has 70 circuits in its grid.
GRU’s policy limits solar options for homeowners depending on which circuit they connect to and how much solar is already entering it. Other area utilities also maintain the 2 MW limits — Jacksonville Electric Authority, Orlando Utility Commission, Florida Power & Light and Ocala Electric Utility.
The issue came up at a joint Gainesville City Commission and Utility Advisory Board meeting in October 2021, and the city commission directed the board to study the limit further and look for ways to add more solar.
At Thursday’s meeting, a third-party study will present its findings. The study, hired by the city in November 2021, found that some circuits can handle further megawatts while others cannot, according to backup documents.
In a letter to the city commission, Tony Cunningham, interim general manager of GRU, recommends the policy stay in place but offered an option.
If a homeowner or developer wants to add a solar array that pushes the 2 MW limit, they must pay for an impact study. The study would then show if a circuit can handle an increase. If upgraded infrastructure were needed, the homeowner or developer would bear the cost in order to install their solar.
Cunningham said the customer could also install a battery backup system instead.
The third-party report also recommended performing a distribution planning study and hosting a capacity study every three years.
The commission is not slated to motion on the item besides accepting the report.
On the consent agenda for Thursday, the commission will vote to award a $16 million bid to Watson Construction Company LLC for the SW 62nd Boulevard connector project. The Florida Department of Transportation will fund the $13.1 million for the project.
Approved in October 2021, the connector project will add a 1.1-mile extension to SW 62nd Boulevard at the Cabana Beach Apartments. The road will feed into Clark Butler Boulevard near the Butler Plaza Walmart. The roadway will include a 330 ft. bridge, 11 ft. vehicle lanes, 7 ft. bike lanes and a 10 ft. multi-use path.
City engineer Brian Singleton told the commission at the time that the project had been in the works since 2007 and hopes to reduce congestion along SW 34th Street, Archer Road and Newberry Road.