It seems as though every time I turn around there is something new that needs attention or needs to be worked into the regular operations of the City. Some of those new issues are generated by state or federal agencies that are trying to find ways to “make everyone equal” and homogenize our society without sometimes realizing the actual differences each person or community has. Some of the new issues are a result of changes in technology and the impacts that has on how we serve our residents. And some of these new issues are driven by some of our individual citizens and their interest in improving their own life or home. A good example of this last has really become a serious challenge to our staff and decision making in the last few days, and that is the serious request by a few different residents to work out what is needed to allow the installation of solar panel electric generation in addition to providing City electric power service to that location.
In the past month, we now have three individual situations seriously asking about power interconnectivity, and before that it was just a question of “if I were to think about this what would it entail” and we had not felt the need to address it directly. Of course, like any significant change to our policies, the City Commission will have to discuss and act on this before any interconnection can be done. In the past week we have started gathering other utility’s policies and ordinances and have just begun reading them to work out what we need to consider and how we will need to address this complex issues for Mason. I have seven different ways that other towns and coops have dealt with it and we will review and closely consider them as we work to craft the Mason documents. However this is not an immediate thing, and the process will likely take a couple of months now that we have a better grasp of what is involved. Just like most every other change that an individual or even a small group of residents would like to see, it requires a bit of time to examine the consequences and determine the direction we need to consider before action is taken.
There are also other possible delays in getting a change implemented, such as the priority of the City staff at this time is completing the rebuild of the sewer plant and dealing with several other complications that have appeared in the way of daily work. So we will be working on this solar power interconnection but it will take some time, and I hope we will be able to consider it at our next City Commission meeting if we can get a preliminary draft together. But I would expect there to be some serious discussion and the need to rewrite some portions so that we might not take a final vote on it until the May meeting. Because this will be a distinct change in our electric policy as well as an impact on our distribution system (that could, if not handled correctly be very dangerous to workers) it is only appropriate that we take the time to get it figured out right and set up in the proper way.
Although this particular issue will not affect very many of the residents of Mason, I wanted to take a minute to explain the process because this same procedure occurs with most every change in City services or policy. Right now there are situations and groups that would like the City to make changes to the adoption policies for pets at the pound, individual residents that would like specific alleys closed and abandoned by the City, a state agency requiring us to do another feasibility study and correct the naturally occurring radionuclide presence in our water supply, and a well-meaning group who is requesting we consider setting up a new organization to direct economic development and fund it with some of the sales taxes that funds the City. Each of these issues are very important to some residents and each of them would like decisions and action to be made right away, but it takes time and effort to work through the issue and make good plans for our town that will improve and be good decisions for now and for the future. It takes time and many people complain about the delays, but our goal is to be wise and work out good solutions that will benefit everyone and be equally applicable to all of our citizens.
We at the City are constantly working to improve our town, and with your help we can continue to make Mason a great community, but it does take time to make changes. When you are involved in one of these situations and are wanting to see changes, I hope that you will understand that we cannot often make quick decisions that might create problems in another area now or later. It is important to see the “big picture” of our community and sometimes that can take time and serious consideration. If you have ideas or suggestions, we want to hear about them, but also realize that sometimes it takes a bit more effort to make new ideas fit into the big picture that is the community we call Mason.
Your friend and neighbor, Brent