The city is contracting with Utility Financial Solutions of Holland to complete a $24,800 study for Bay City Electric Light & Power to make sure the city is meeting the requirements of new renewable energy legislation and planning for the future.
In separate agreements, the city is contracting with the Michigan Public Power Agency of Lansing to help develop and implement renewable energy and energy optimization plans, which are required by the state under the Clean, Renewable and Efficient Energy Act of 2008.
Phil Newton, electric department director, said the city will work with MPPA to get those plans done by the April 3 deadline. MPPA is assisting several municipal utilities and will charge Bay City about $6,500.
Newton said the $24,800 study being done will analyze the city's long-term costs of services and evaluate ''new energy initiatives.''
New state laws require utilities like Bay City Electric Light & Power to get 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2015. The city already is taking steps in that direction and signed an agreement last August to purchase renewable energy through a landfill gas program.
Newton said the new study will delve more into alternative energy options. It will provide the city, for the first time, suggestions for a ''net metering rate'' for customers who wish to hook up small wind turbines or solar panels on their property and receive credits from the city for power they contribute back to the city's electric distribution system.
City Commission President Christopher J. Shannon, 1st Ward, said the city will be investing up to $6 million to implement a new automatic meter reading system over the next three years that will allow that.
''It's very cool,'' he said. ''I'm a big proponent of distributed generation, so that anyone who wants to get plugged into some of the alternative energy techniques out there can do that.''
The study also will propose an ''electric vehicle charging rate'' for customers with electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids, as well as suggest options for a ''green rate adder'' for customers who wish to buy power from renewable sources in a greater proportion than the required 10 percent.
City Manager Robert V. Belleman said the study also will ensure the city's electric rates are equitable for all rate classes – such as residential, commercial and industrial – and that no one class is underwriting the electricity costs of another.