ALTAMONT — Altamont city officials are facing a growing problem as more homes switch to solar energy.

The council last week considered a request to connect to the city electrical grid a residential solar unit exceeding the 10 kilowatt capacity limit set by the city.

Electric Department Superintendent Bryan Seidel expressed concerns he had about granting a higher power capacity limit. Seidel told the council the size of the solar system the resident wants to install is 30 kilowatts.

Seidel explained a 10 kW solar energy system generates approximately 66 amps. He said a solar system generating 30 kW would produce 150 to 160 amps of power online, which would cause it to back feed into the city's electrical system.

Seidel said the total amount of solar power the city is allowed by law produced by residents is 126 kW. He said currently residents are producing 28.5 kW of the maximum 126 kW allowed. He added approving an application for a 30 kW system would set a precedent for other individuals, thereby, reducing the total number of residents who could apply and install a solar-powered system. Once the residential allocations hit the 126 kW mark, no more applications can be considered.

Seidel suggested the council approve the residential application for only 10 kW of power production currently allowed by the city.

“I think we should agree that we keep it at 10 (kW),” Mayor Jason Rippetoe said.

The council approved the residential application to not exceed the 10kw capacity set forth by city ordinance.

In other solar news, Larry Taylor, IMEA board member representing the City of Altamont, gave the council an update on the city solar power project. Taylor said he was told project should be commercially producing solar power no later than March of 2020.

In other matters, the council approved a bid from Kieffer Brothers Construction of $687,716 for the West Division Street Project. The project includes storm sewer replacement and replacing the street with new concrete. The work starts at Main Street and extends west down West Division Street to just past the railroad tracks in front of ADM.

Council members also approved last week the purchase of two in-car police cameras for $5,050, adding to the two cameras purchased earlier this year.

According to Altamont Police Chief Alan Heiens, the additional purchase of two cameras would equip all Altamont Police Department patrol units with a camera. Heiens told the council the cameras would need to be purchased and installed by June 30 to qualify for an Illinois state grant to reimburse the city for the cameras. Heiens said the city has received reimbursement for the first two cameras purchased.

In other council action:

• Approved an ordinance to grant an easement to Illinois Municipal Electric Agency (IMEA) on land to be used to place solar panels.

• Approved an ordinance to place an advertisement for bids to purchase a wood chipper to replace a chipper the city owns that is no longer operational.

Charles Mills can be reached at charles.mills@effinghamdailynews.com or by phone at 217-347-7151 ext. 126.