Fresh on the heels of recent ALEC defeats in Utah and Washington, the solar industry today declares victory in Kansas. Across the country, many utilities are attacking the solar industry (and the utilities’ own customers) by attempting to eliminate net metering. Net metering allows rooftop solar customers to use clean solar energy they generate themselves, and then receive full retail credit for any excess electricity sent back to the grid. Utilities turn around and sell this energy to neighboring homes and businesses.
ALEC joined the fray at the end of 2013 by creating a template for model anti-net metering policies. In just the first few months of 2014, rooftop solar defeated utility-backed ALEC bills in Utah and Washington. It’s now time to add Kansas to the ALEC defeat list.
The three investor-owned Kansas utilities – Westar, KCP&L and Empire – supported a bill designed to eliminate net metering. Solar advocates and local industry groups defeated this attack on solar by ensuring that the current version of the bill preserves net metering. The bill, now headed to Governor’s desk for signature, also says that if the utilities want to change rates in the future, they have to do so through a rate case.
Net metering customers make up 0.03% of the three investor-owned utilities’ customer base. Out of approximately 900,000 residential and commercial customers, just 201 are utilizing net metering through rooftop solar or small wind projects. With such a tiny solar market, these powerful utilities thought they would be able to completely eliminate net metering without anyone noticing. Instead, more than 550 customers contacted their Senator in support of net metering. Net metering doesn’t just benefit the customers who are already taking advantage of it, it benefits everyone. The public will not sit by idly and let it be attacked.
The utilities want to protect their monopolies and shut down energy choice. The public – the people whose energy choice is under attack – wants rooftop solar. Rooftop solar’s victory over ALEC and the investor-owned utilities in Kansas further emphasizes how state leaders continue to recognize the value that net metering and rooftop solar provide.
Image: Kansas flag & sunlight via Shutterstock