Council to discuss insurance for solar panels

Published 11:09 am Friday, July 7, 2017

Franklin’s City Council is considering changing its standard contract for Franklin Power and Light customers who seek to install solar panels on their homes. The proposed change, which the council will discuss at its regular scheduled meeting on Monday, July 10, would require the customer to provide proof of his or her homeowner’s insurance policy and would require that policy to include at least $100,000 in liability insurance for the city.

According to a memorandum from City Attorney H. Taylor Williams IV to the council members, the city adopted the original solar panel contract in 2015, titling it “Agreement for Parallel Connection of a Photovoltaic Generator with Franklin Power and Light’s Electric Distribution System by a Residential Customer.” The purpose of the agreement was to provide the city with insurance coverage in the event the city’s power grid was damaged due to the solar panel’s interconnection equipment.

Williams added that the city has never needed to use this agreement for any residential customer until now. A customer living on Smith’s Ferry Road desires to install a solar panel at his residence to generate not more than 7.2 watts of power.

An issue arose when the customer was unable to obtain the insurance required in the original agreement because various insurance carriers have refused to offer the type of coverage mandated on page three of the original agreement under item 11. Williams’ memo says that various insurance carriers have refused coverage under a specific liability policy naming the city as an additional insured, on the basis that the city does not have an insurable interest in the property.

Williams is confident, however, that changing the wording of item 11 to the following will adequately address the issue:

“The Customer shall provide proof of his homeowner’s policy of insurance for the residence of Customer that must provide at least $100,000 of liability coverage and shall not exclude coverage for any personal injury or property damage that may be caused to the City’s personnel or property by a parallel connection of a photovoltaic generator to the City’s electric distribution system.

“The Customer also agrees to maintain a policy of homeowner’s insurance providing for at least $100,000 of coverage as long as there is a photovoltaic generator connected to the City’s electric distribution system.”

The only other topic listed on the agenda for the meeting is to schedule the city’s future council meetings for fiscal year 2017-2018.