Protect Solar Choice in Kansas!
Help Save Solar in Kansas! Once again solar is under attack in Kansas and once again Cromwell Solar is heading up the defense. We have beaten back three previous attempts by the utilities to slow or kill solar in Kansas and, with your help, we can prevail this time as well. Details of the new attack are below. To help save solar all we need is a few minutes of your time to do two simple things:
We must strategically flood the KCC with public comments in favor of waiting and carefully studying the solar issue before making major changes which could limit freedom and cost jobs. Please write your pro-solar comments and send them to the KCC ---BEFORE MAY 26 DEADLINE--- to the Kansas Corporation Commission, Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, 1500 SW Arrowhead Rd, Topeka, KS 66604-4027. Be sure to reference Docket No. 16-GIME-403-GIE. You may also call the Commission’s Public Affairs office at 1-800-662-0027, or leave comments on their web-site (see below for talking points)
Send a comment, but please also sign our petition:
Kansas Corporation Commission- Generic Solar Case
What is this docket about?
As part of the last electric rate case, Westar wanted to design rates to be punitive to solar customers including a $50/mo solar tax. The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC, the governmental group with authority over our monopoly utilities) allowed a separate rate to be designed, but put off what that rate would look like until after a “generic rate case”, where the issue could be looked at in depth. Today we are in the midst of this generic rate case and it looks like we may be in imminent danger of having a solar tax of such magnitude that it would severely punish many existing solar customers and make going solar prohibitively expensive.
If the utilities had their way, in many cases, solar customers would pay an electric bill higher than the one they paid before they got solar. The solar industry wants any separate solar rate to be based on facts, and be cost based, not simply implemented because it “seems” right. Many independent studies in other states have shown that the benefits of net-metering were greater than the costs. We can’t assume solar costs anything.
The utilities are trying to lump net-metered solar customers with parallel generation, two vastly different ways to be compensated for excess solar electricity produced. Net-metered solar customers get full retail value from the utility for excess produced power, parallel generated folks get only wholesale. Lumping these two different forms of Distributed Generation together for the same rate would be useful only if one’s goal was to kill independent rooftop solar, not establish fair rates.
With the size of a solar array being determined not just by electrical need but also limited by sunny roof space and budget, solar customers are extremely diverse in the way they consume and produce energy. Many net-metered solar customers still pay for as much electricity as some of their non-solar neighbors. Why should they be fined for using their own property to produce some of their own power? Any rate change for net-metered solar customers would need to be looked at amongst a wide variety of customer types to ensure that the separate rate was fair to all.
We must strategically flood the KCC with public comments in favor of waiting and carefully studying the solar issue before making major changes which could limit freedom and cost jobs. Please write your pro-solar comments and send them to the KCC ---BEFORE MAY 26 DEADLINE--- to the Kansas Corporation Commission, Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, 1500 SW Arrowhead Rd, Topeka, KS 66604-4027. Be sure to reference Docket No. 16-GIME-403-GIE. You may also call the Commission’s Public Affairs office at 1-800-662-0027, or leave comments on their web-site
Opinion: Opposed (www.kcc.ks.gov/pi/complaint.cgi?dkt=16-GIME-403-GIE).
Send a comment, but please also sign our petition:
Please use these points in your correspondence-
1) There is no rush to change anything as there are only a few hundred solar customers and we have very conservative controls in place such as individual system size limits (15kW) and a limit on the total amount of net-metered energy on the grid to no more than 1% of peak (total solar on Westar’s grid is 0.11%, less with other utilities). These controls ensure that effects, if any exist, would be completely negligible. With such limitations in place, there is no need to rush on a drastic change policy. Wait, get more data and proceed carefully.
2) Net metering and parallel generation are two vastly different forms of Distributed Generation with different costs and benefits and should never be lumped together.
3) Get the facts before costing jobs and restricting freedom - A study of the benefits and costs of solar is needed by a neutral 3rd party to decide if a separate rate for net-metered solar customers is warranted at all.
4) Solar energy wants to pay its “fair share” but no more. The costs Westar has assigned to solar – which include a lower energy charges, but higher flat fees, and a new demand charge - were done without study and were picked out of the air. IF an independent study says net-metered solar has a net cost to the system, then any rate proposed to recover those costs needs to be proved to meet only those extra costs and be fair to all the various types of solar customers.
5) The proposed rates that solar will fall under are a MAJOR change. They deserve a full, independent study of how those rate changes would affect different types of solar customers.
6) Making it harder to install solar on one’s roof is a restriction of freedom.
7) Net-metered solar power benefits the grid by reducing transmission costs, reducing distribution costs, reducing line losses over transmission, reducing costs for compliance with current and/or future carbon and renewable energy requirements, and reducing electrical load, particularly during peak hours when more expensive fuels are used. These benefits need to be factored into the analysis.
8) Extra – other states such as Mississippi, Maine, and Nevada have done their due diligence before making such a major decision. Kansas (and the KCC) should do the same.
Please do not:
1) Discuss Global Warming. This is a divisive issue in Kansas and elsewhere and will likely not sway the people we need to sway. And while it may be relevant to why some people are adding solar, it’s not the only reason for some and it’s not relevant to discriminatory rates.
2) Discuss Coal. While it is dirty and all that, it is a separate issue and its goodness or badness is irrelevant to Westar’s attempt to make solar uneconomical.
3) Discuss Environmental benefits of solar. Yes, we believe they are there and super important, but the KCC will not factor these in and may distract them from the other points.
4) Exhibit anger. Anger is unlikely to sway those who disagree. It may actually cause them to dig in. We’ll be more effective with logic and level heads.
5) Discuss other issues- we’d rather keep things focused and not get off track.