Business

Business

Kansans who install solar panels may soon pay higher electric bills

This file photo from May 2, 2016 shows a bank of solar panels atop a house project by the University of Kansas' Studio 804 architecture class, at 1200 Pennsylvania St.

This file photo from May 2, 2016 shows a bank of solar panels atop a house project by the University of Kansas' Studio 804 architecture class, at 1200 Pennsylvania St.

September 22, 2017

Advertisement

— Kansas electric customers who install solar panels or other kinds of self-generation devices may soon have to pay higher rates for electricity than other residential customers.

In a long-awaited and highly controversial ruling Thursday, the Kansas Corporation Commission said electric utilities may treat customers who generate their own power as a separate class and charge them higher rates in order to make sure they pay their fair share of the cost of maintaining the power grid. The ruling applies only to residential customers using what are called "distributed generation," or DG systems, such as solar panels.

Officials at Westar Energy, which serves Lawrence and most of the state of Kansas, applauded the decision, saying it will ensure fairness in the way rates are levied. They also said they plan to file a new rate case early next year in which they will take advantage of the ruling, putting people with rooftop solar panels and other DG systems in a separate class of residential customers.

Westar spokeswoman Gina Penzig said about 80 percent of the utility's costs are fixed costs related to maintaining power plants and the transmission grid. Only about 20 percent of its costs are determined by the amount of energy used.

A customer's bill, however, is almost the exact opposite, she said, because only 10 to 20 percent of that bill reflects fixed costs, while the other 80 to 90 percent is based on usage.

"So then you take somebody who has private generation that helps offset their energy part of the time, and maybe even produces some excess that we store on the grid for them until later, and so their cost that they're paying each month goes down, but our cost of serving them does not really change that much," Penzig said.

But renewable energy advocates and a Lawrence-based company that installs solar panels blasted the KCC ruling, arguing that it was based on unverified data submitted by utility companies, not on any independent, third-party analysis, which they had requested.

"We think this decision has the potential to do significant short-term harm to the residential solar industry in Kansas," Scott White, research and project analyst at Lawrence-based Cromwell Solar, said in an email statement. "It could make the pursuit of energy choice and energy independence less cost-effective and will force customers who want more renewable energy in the mix, to pay the much higher rates the utility charges for it, if the utilities are successful in getting what they seek."

Dorothy Barnett, executive director of the Climate and Energy Project, a renewable energy advocacy group based in Hutchinson, said there have been similar rules enacted in some other states where rooftop solar generation is a much bigger trend, such as Arizona, California and Nevada.

"Kansas currently has about 700 systems across the whole state, so we have a ridiculously low amount of penetration from distributed systems," she said. "Really what we're doing is squashing a free market for people to have the opportunity to choose the kind of investment they want to make in their home."

The case began with a 2015 rate filing by Westar in which the Topeka-based company sought to levy a separate tariff on customers who installed DG systems after Oct. 28, 2015, essentially charging them an additional fee for generating some of their own power.

Cromwell, CEP and others objected to that proposal, and the KCC eventually rejected it. But in July 2016, KCC opened what it called a "general investigation" docket, "to examine various issues surrounding rate structure for distributed generation customers."

"The Commission stated its intent to have a thorough and thoughtful discussion of the appropriate rate structure for DG including the quantifiable costs and quantifiable benefits of DG," the commission noted in its final order.

Based on that, White and Barnett said they asked for an independent third party to conduct a study to quantify the costs and benefits of DG power, but they said the commission declined and instead accepted the numbers submitted by Westar and other electric utilities.

That resulted in what the KCC termed a "non-unanimous Stipulation and Agreement" that formed the basis of Thursday's order.

Barnett said the other parties in the case have 15 days from the date of the order to file an appeal. But she said none of the parties objecting to the rule had yet decided on what course they will take.

The order basically allows Westar to implement the kind of rate design it requested in 2015, levying a tariff on customers who installed DG systems after Oct. 28 of that year. For other utilities, the order allows them to assess fees on customers who install systems on or after the date of the order, which was Thursday.

Comments

Phillip Chappuie 3 weeks, 4 days ago

So in a sense these folks have to pay for something they don't use and may not need? Kind of sounds a little like health insurance, doesn't it? Of course then the irony would be the same conservative base that would blast the ACA are the ones that will cheer this decision. Just keep feeding the machine and discourage innovation. It seems to be the tea party way.

Andrew Applegarth 3 weeks, 4 days ago

"So in a sense these folks have to pay for something they don't use and may not need?"

Where do you think these folks are getting their electricity when the sun isn't shining? If their usage from the grid is really 0, then it doesn't matter what rate they are billed at. Zero times anything is still zero.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 weeks, 4 days ago

But why should they pay for more per unit that you do?

Andrew Applegarth 3 weeks, 4 days ago

As I said elsewhere, I would prefer it if the fixed costs were billed at a fixed rate each month and only the costs that vary depending on the amount of energy provided be billed at a per unit rate. Unfortunately that is not format of the rate plan approved by the KCC. It's not a perfect solution, but I support the attempt to capture a fair share of the fixed costs from all users.

Carol Bowen 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Like the comparison of power grids and health insurance. Auto insurance would be another comparison. If you support KCCs rate structure, does that mean you support ObamaCare?

Andrew Applegarth 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Insurance is a form of legalized gambling that allows you to mitigate risk through shared sacrifice. The power grid is a delivery method of electrical energy. You can get health care from a doctor without insurance but you can't get electricity from a public utility without the grid. Your three items make a rather slim "Which one is not like the others", but power grid is clearly the odd man out.

It's not a valid comparison, so your question is irrelevant but I'll answer it anyway. No.

Carol Bowen 3 weeks, 1 day ago

But you can get electricity without the grid. That’s thecrux of the issue, isn’t it? I just found your comparison interesting. Itisn’t worth a debate.

Betty Bartholomew 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I feel the phrase "unmitigated gall" applies to Westar here.

I could see saying that people with DG systems would still need to pay their maintenance share, but saying that they have to pay MORE than other customers is ridiculous. It's a bald-faced attempt to kill what I'm sure Westar sees as competition.

Andrew Applegarth 3 weeks, 4 days ago

"saying that they have to pay MORE than other customers"

You might want to read the article again as that's not quite what it said. It said that they will pay more than they are now because they will be paying a higher rate on their lower usage. It did not say that they would be paying more than another customer who used the same amount of electricity without generating any of it themselves.

It may well be that some will not generate enough to offset the higher rate, but there is not enough information in the article to know where that break point will be.

Josh Berg 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I am not necessarily a renewable energy advocate but Westar earns between 50-70 million every quarter. I believe this is a classic situation of put the costs on the consumer. They could easily change their billing and rates to avoid putting these people in a different category. Solar panels cost thousands of dollars to install and the main upside to them is savings on monthly energy bills. If those savings go away then so do the perks of having the panels. I know I have thought about installing some and if I had and was put into a different class of customers and gouged of more money because of it then I would be livid.

I run into this with my Dish Network every year as they say the cost to broadcast tv goes up so they have to raise my bill while they record over a billion in profits. Where does all of the money Westar makes go to if they cannot afford to operate power plants anymore without charging these people more? The answer is they do have the money they just dont want to pay for it.

Andrew Applegarth 3 weeks, 4 days ago

"I believe this is a classic situation of put the costs on the consumer."

I'm curious how you think business works. Any business that does not pass the costs on to the consumer goes bankrupt. Perhaps you meant to complain about the profit margin, but that is not the same thing.

If you don't want to pay for your share of the power grid, then your DG system needs to provide 100% of your gross electricity usage. If you just net zero, then you are still using the grid (both as a provider and as a user) and you need to pay your share of it.

Personally, I wish that they would bill the fixed costs at a fixed rate and the variable costs of generation based on usage.

Richard Heckler 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Campaign cookie jars and executive pay packages no doubt see generous
contributions from the gigantic profits.

It seems that the campaign contributions won .....

Calvin Anders 3 weeks, 4 days ago

The Kansas Corporation Commission is just a bunch of stooges appointed by the Governor to ensure the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel interests get to continue to pollute our state even if that means turning back the progress of regulation that encourages the use of renewable energy. The level of corruption is staggering.

Bob Summers 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Saving the planet should cost more for those that see a need to save it.

Don Brennaman 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Buy your gas mask and vote gop. Those destroying the planet deserve all the profit.

David Reynolds 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I find this absolutely hilarious!

This was the exact same language used by the Lawrence City Commission & citizens supporting the commission when they implemented "Impact Fees/Development Fees" on new homes in Lawrence..."..higher rates in order to make sure they pay their fair share of the cost of maintaining the power grid." (Just insert water/sewer system).

The net result then was to increase the cost of housing & new businesses by thousands of dollars.

Now Lawrence has an "Affordable Housing" problem. Now it comes from the city mandating increased costs on housing & the Kansas Corporation Commission increasing costs of electricity for those trying to save money on their electricity by implementing "Green Energy!"

Impact fees were implemented by a liberal city commission & green energy was thrust on society by those liberals claiming Global Warming.

Seems to me the green is flowing to city hall & the utilities due ill conceived policies, and not considering the consequences, and all payed by the home owners.

There were many in the city & at meetings telling how Impact Fees would hurt the cost of housing, we were ignored then & now.

Those saying, forcing green energy solutions were not going to work and end up costing more were not listened to by the Climate alarmists. The only reason solar & other green items even exist today is because of subsidies payed by everyone to compensate the few.

So, now those bad policies are coming due. My oh my, what will those promoting increased costs on housing & home owners do to help lower costs?

Bob Summers 3 weeks, 4 days ago

It's not fair that people who are not saving the planet should have to pay for saving it. Let the people saving the planet pay for it. Pay as you save plan.

Michael Kort 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Westar is a corporation of creepers looking for an unlocked door way to creep into and steal something from solar rate payers .

How long will it be before they deside to penalize those who have install energy efficient appliances, efficient HVAC air conditioning and LED lightbulbs ?

What could Westar do to a customer who switched to NATURAL GAS to dry their clothes , cook their food or heat their hot water, ..............which is cheaper than electricity ? .

Aren't we all supposed to be buying into "energy efficiency use" so Westar doesn't have to build another additional plant or more transmission lines ?

But if you do just that, they can penalize you ?......or solar households must subsidize your and my efficiency...... because solar is not " WESTARSS KIND EFFICIENCY " ?

And wouldn't a non solar customer still pay a monthly service fee even if they had nothing at all run thru their Westars meter as long as they had a meter ?

This is the greed of a ruthless utility company and its shareholders reaching out its tentacles in all direction to pay for their needless KCPL merger .

If they succeed at this, who is to say that they won't be back later for more free money to be taken from those with their own energy efficient appliances or lighting or who dump them for water heating and clothes drying ?...........now why would they do that ?.........maybe because they can get away with it ?

This is a naked attempt by a monopoly to kill of any competition of any sort even if that competition is imaginary in terms of it's size and reality of impact .

Not only should Westar not be allowed to merge with KCPL ......but Westar as it is, needs to be broken up .

I pay in support of renuable energy, a small additional fee each month to buy electricity thru Westar that comes from renuable sources like wind or solar and I don't care if they grid it to here from mid Kansas wind mills or from some persons roof top solar panel here in Lawrence !

As I write this, the authorities are evacuating 70,000 souls who live below a dam that is possibly going to fail in Puertorico where the streets on tv already look like the Colorado River Rapids after Hurricane Maria and thousands are still homeless in Texas and Florida, the local temps here are higher than normal and the hot Atlantic is cooling itself with giant storms........and the Hurricane season is not over yet .

What are they thinking at Westar ? ? ?

Andrew Applegarth 3 weeks, 4 days ago

That's a lot of hyperbole to say that you don't want to pay for your share of the grid.

If you think Westar is greedy, you should look at the folks who champion net-metering. I have no problem with people reducing the amount of electricity they pull from the grid, but I have no desire to pay for your share of the grid while you're still using it nor do I want to pay higher rates because they are forced to buy from you at retail when they could buy it at wholesale or generate it cheaper themselves.

Michael Kort 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Here is reality.......the days of the grid and central power plants are doomed because solar can already create at the cost of a central plant 3 years ahead of the DOE's goal and it is only going to continue to get better .

Solar can also generate on cloudy days now due to advances .

Storage will eventually be conquered and people will figure out that power doesn't need to come from hundreds of miles away .......expensively......Westars worst dream is the roofs of buildings big and small generating power that they don't produce !

By the way, many big box stores already produce their own daylight power for their own use bypassing the grid so do you think that Westar is going to take on an Amazon Distribution Center,, a Costco, Walmart or a Fed Ex Warehouse ? You going to bad mouth them for not wanting to be energy dependent 24/7 ? Why not penalize them too ? ? ? for trying to escape the clutches of the power barrons .

Westar is a monopoly and with the gift of being granted monopoly status by the state comes a responsibility towards the general public good which is to move us away from central polluting power plants and decaying grids into local generation, storage and distribution .

You must have missed the hyperbolistic mention above that i do pay Westar a small elective $ premium to use WIND GENERATED POWER that comes across their GRID......so why can't solar use their GRID also at a slight elevation of cost to those of us who choose to support it's use $ at a cost set by Westar, as i already do with wind power just to amuse ourselves ?

How in the world does that cost you anything ?

Yes, we should all take trains because people who fly are avoiding their fair share of the cost of supporting the passenger railroads who also bring us our freight . A cost that those who CHOOSE to travel by rail or receive freight must make up for in $ in it's cost for a ticket of their CHOICE on a train, etc ?

And what about those awful people who drive somewhere ?.....costing the train traveler and frequent fliers a fortune in higher ticket prices ?......the railroads and their passengers are going broke and their rights are being abused!........ which is why Warren Buffet owns the Santa Fe ......or is it the UP ?

Hurricanes are nature's A/C for our oceans . They suck up heat and throw hundreds of miles of shade on the ocean's water below to cool it off .

May be YellowStone will blow up, bury us all in ash and clouds for years and negate the effects of rising temps . on earth by shading the earth, destroying agriculture and wasting half of us ?

Until then i will try and do something " choice wise " by paying extra $ for wind power or alternatives on their GRID as they become available despite Wetar and the Corporation Commision Cronies worst intents .

Andrew Applegarth 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Wow. The lack of intelligence in your post is truly staggering.

First, let me mention again that I would much prefer and strongly support billing the fixed costs at a fixed rate and only the variable costs at a per unit rate. That is really the only way to fairly share the costs.

That said, if you are getting all of your electricity from the grid, you are paying as close to your fair share of the fixed costs as can happen under the current system. That's not costing me anything and I'm not talking about you. However, if you are providing part of your power yourself but still depending on the grid for the rest, you are not paying even close to a fair share of the fixed costs and that costs me money as the per unit rate goes up as the fixed costs are split across fewer units. I'll say again that the only fair approach is to split the fixed and variable costs out, but this is a better than the status quo stop gap measure to address the problem.

As to the other straw men you threw out, I'll just shake my head and walk away...

Jim Schilling 3 weeks, 4 days ago

The law in Kansas is if you have solar that produces more than you use it is sold to Westar at wholesale rates that they turn around and sell retail for profit. Westar is not "storing on the grid for them later" they are selling it as soon as they can.

That makes every rooftop solar setup a mini power plant for Westar that they didn't have to build IF it overproduces which most do NOT do.

As a solar owner I pay the exact same connectivity fees everyone else does and any electricity I use from the grid I pay for at retail rates the same as everyone else. By having solar I put less demand on the grid during peak times which benefits Westar again.

There is no harm to Westar from rooftop solar except their bottom line.

Andrew Applegarth 3 weeks, 4 days ago

http://www.kcc.state.ks.us/images/PDFs/electric/net_metering_faq.pdf

According to the KCC, you are wrong. You do not get the wholesale rate for excess electricity produced. The PDF linked above states that you bank any excess energy produced and are credited at a 1:1 ratio against any energy used. You aren't actually selling electricity to them and thus you won't get paid for producing more energy than you use but it's a minor technicality and Westar is basically buying your excess at the retail price.

There may be no harm to Westar, but there is harm to those who are being forced to subsidize your share of the fixed costs of providing electricity. You may think you're doing Westar a favor by providing energy for them to sell, but they can't call you up and say "Hey, we need more electricity." or "Hey, we're good so shut it off." You are an unpredictable nuisance, not a viable energy supplier.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 weeks, 4 days ago

Please bring on a good storage battery, and we will just quit bothering Westar all together.

Don Brennaman 3 weeks, 4 days ago

It seems that energy providers are spending a lot of their profits advertising and crying about loss of revenue. Let's say YOU make $50M profit. Do you spend 10% to fight competition and pocket the profit or do you buy up startups with that 10%? How about 50-50? 99% of us need to ask, "How is trickle down working for me?" When was the last proposal from from the gop that didn't start with tax cuts for the 1% at the expense of the less fortunate? I'm for reducing your corporate taxes if you would just lower your prices and profit/greed mentality and work for the common good.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 3 weeks, 3 days ago

So, what's next? Higher Gasoline prices for people with Hybrid vehicles? That makes about as much sense as this proposal.

Andrew Applegarth 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Possibly. It does make sense as these vehicles are not paying their fair share of the highway tax as it is also a broken per unit system. There are people out there trying to find a solution, but I don't think that is the route they will take.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 3 weeks, 2 days ago

They pay the highway tax when they buy gas and tag their vehicles. The fact that they use less gas does not deserve to be penalized. What about all electric cars that use no gasoline at all? Should their taxes, paid at time of tag renewal, go up because the pay no taxes on Gasoline? This just reeks of greed from the Energy sector!

Andrew Applegarth 3 weeks, 2 days ago

For every mile driven, normal vehicles generate more highway tax than hybrid vehicles. For that same mile, normal and hybrid vehicles each generate more highway tax than electric vehicles.

I'm sorry if you can't do the math to actually realize who is skipping out on the check (electric), who is shortchanging the waiter (hybrid), and who is being penalized by having to cover the shortage from the other two cheapskates...

Ken Lassman 3 weeks, 1 day ago

What a poor characterization of folks who choose to have hybrid/electric vehicles, Andrew. I don't know anyone who buys either type of vehicle so they can avoid paying for the roads they drive on. Typically, folks in either hybrid or electric vehicles purchase them as a result of their concern for the carbon emissions and other pollutants released by fossil fuel powered internal combustion engines and/or the lure of more efficient mileage, i.e. getting more distance for the same amount of fuel.

Instead of trashing folks who drive more efficient, lower carbon emitting vehicles, a better way to characterize the drop in finances is that the old way of financing roads is no longer an accurate reflection of usage. Travelling less is not a bad thing either, which is also part of the reason for dropping revenues. States and the feds are both trying to figure out better ways to pay for roads without characterizing the shifts in negative terms the way you have. For instance, Oregon, after two trial periods, is expanding a funding method that is based on the number of miles you drive on roads instead of a gas tax. They figure it is more sustainable in the long run--here are the details: http://www.myorego.org/

Andrew Applegarth 3 weeks, 1 day ago

So basically what you are saying is that I'm right but I need to spin it to make the folks who aren't paying their share look good? Thanks, but no thanks. I'll stick to the facts and leave the dishonesty to the folks like you.

Ken Lassman 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Fuel tax has never been an equitable way for making folks pay the amount that they should be spending according to the wear and tear that they put on the roads, so why are you so up in arms about the inequitableness of a fuel efficient hybrid or electric vehicle when compared to the average car? According to AASHTO, a Prius has only 34% of the wear and tear on the road per mile as the average car on the road because it is lighter, and a Hummer puts 21 times as much wear and tear on the road as the average car. If you want to get upset about the inequity of things, why not complain about the average 9 ton big rig, which puts 410 times as much wear and tear on the road per mile as an average car? Since I'm so dishonest you can look it up for yourself since you probably wouldn't trust any link I provide you.

Bottom line: if you're interested in equitable funding of highways, then you're going to have to supplement the fuel tax with something like what Oregonians are doing, because the discrepancies are increasingly outstripping the outdated, oversimplified and always inequitable fuel tax. Seems like the Oregonian system uses weight classes to make the taxation more equitable and based on a combination of miles driven and wear liability.

Andrew Applegarth 3 weeks, 2 days ago

PS: You don't pay any highway tax (aka federal fuel tax) when you tag your vehicle. You pay property tax, which is completely unrelated.

Jim Schilling 3 weeks, 3 days ago

So Andrew let me explain how it works for you. On my Westar bill I see the amount of electricity I use from the grid and I see the amount of generation created by my system that is more than I need. The rules about net metering changed just prior to when I put my system on my house so I have a different set of rules than those that have older systems.

What happens with that excess is I receive a credit on my bill, at the wholesale rate, not retail and there is no way to spin that because the numbers are different and my credit number is smaller per kwh. I "bank" no energy and Westar "banks" no energy on my behalf. They sell what goes back into the grid from my system. Just like people who put a system on after October 28, 2015 will now seemingly have a different set of rules to follow than I do I have a different set than longer term customers.

You are subsidizing ZERO of my share. In fact I am subsidizing you because I am required by Kansas law to remain grid tied. I pay the same as you do, I just use less from the grid. If I decided to stop using light bulbs and function by candlelight should I have to pay more because I use less? No, you just want me to.

Andrew Applegarth 3 weeks, 3 days ago

Forgive me for not blindly taking the word of a stranger on the Internet over an official publication from the government agency that oversees the program. That said, is there any chance that you entered a power purchase agreement rather than having net-metering? If you are not doing net-metering, then my comments about net-metering have nothing to do with your situation.

Either way, I am glad that you are only getting the wholesale price for electricity you sell. There is no way to spin it where forcing Westar to buy electricity at retail is going to result in lower costs than buying it at wholesale.

If you are truly running 0 gross electricity usage from the grid, I agree that you should not be required to be connected nor pay for a share of the grid. Of course, you won't be able to sell your excess either since that would require being connected to the grid...

However, if you are using the grid to push power during the day and/or pull energy during the night then you should pay your fair share. The best solution would be to split fixed and variable costs on the bill. This solution is not nearly as good, but it's better than the current system.

Bob Summers 3 weeks, 3 days ago

official publication from the government agency that oversees the program.

Thanks for the laugh.

Michael Kort 3 weeks, 3 days ago

I knew that the day would come sooner or later when I would agree with Bob Summer's on something,.................HA, HA, HA

Government officials as BELIEVABLE ? ? ?........This is Kansas and THE WAIZARD IS NOT IN .....NOR A REAL WIZARD !.........IT IS .....A BUNCH OF LOBBISTS BEHIND THE CURTAIN ! ! !

There lack of believability always has something to do with the mairage of their offices to the the goals and aspirations of the 1% that the rest of us are just to silly to understand .

The highway trust funds have been looted and given away to the 1% because the rest of us don't understand .

Taxes were raised retroactively in the middle of the tax year game after years of tax giveaways an stupid plan denials because the rest of us just don't understand .

Ken Lassman 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Seems to me that the whole net metering/make the rooftop solar folks pay their share argument is completely diversionary to the larger scale changes that are taking place in the changing structure of utilities in the US, which REALLY seem to be driving these types of requests from the utilities.

It used to be that utilities were a monolithic, vertically integrated and centralized monopoly that agreed to be publicly regulated in exchange for a guaranteed return on their investments. That picture has been changing drastically with the advent of the economies of energy efficiency always being cheaper than new power plants, plus the increasing contributions of cheaper, easily scalable renewables, particularly wind and now solar.

Utilities lived in the paradigm that they would own everything from centralized power plants to the house meter, and that investments would be covered by increasing sales of energy. The only problem is that sales have been flat and centralized power is extremely expensive. The utilities have been very reluctant to look at future-oriented structural changes where there are multiple power sources, more consumer based control of power use through energy efficiency, cars-as-grid-storage, and non-utility ownership of grids, etc. Utility owned wind farms and to an increasing degree utility solar farms fit in well with the centralized power generation model of most utilities, but residential and locally owned distributed energy systems are seen as a threat to the bottom line of paying for investments through increasing sales.

This is not a local issue but part of a much larger set of changes that is rocking the energy production and distribution sector in the same way that cell phones threatened traditional telecommunications industry models. ALEC and other traditional utility model funded interests are trying to stifle the consumer-friendly changes occurring in the industry under the guise of making the little guy pay his way, but in reality it is the structure of the industry that needs adjusting to encourage the structure of the utility industry to change to meet the future needs of a more responsive, more diverse and more consumer controlled power grid that is not so centralized and tied to carbon intensive power production that is needed instead. The big boys are trying to protect their monopolies in an era of change where the old methods don't work any more. Instead of trying to place the blame on the homes with rooftop solar, these utilities need to be making changes that will create an energy responsive grid that in the long run will provide a much brighter future for Kansans than their current models.

Jerry Laurendine 3 weeks, 1 day ago

After reading most of the posts about the KCC decision I haven't seen anything on power losses during transmission of electricity. I'm a retired electrical instructor. The following statements are facts, not opinion, about electrical power distribution. Small scale "photovoltaic" production of electrical energy and transmission of that energy to the power lines "at the point of usage" is a win-win situation. Both the home producer operating in a "net metering" agreement and the power company stand to gain with this situation. Here's why. Fact 1: FLOW One of the variables in electrical "power" is called current. Current is the "rate" of "flow" of electrons through the transmission lines. As power usage increases, electron flow increases. Fact 2: RESISTANCE Transmission "lines" offer resistance to the flow of electrons. The farther from the generator, the greater the "line resistance". Fact 3 POWER LOSSES As electron flow increases, power losses in the lines increase by the square of the current flow times the amount of resistance of the power lines. Power companies go to great expense to limit power losses in their transmission lines by sending their power at a higher voltage and lower current. Fact 4 SOLAR INTRUSION (approximate average) As the sun comes up people begin using more power and photovoltaic systems begin producing power. When the Sun is directly overhead, photovoltaic systems are producing their maximum power. Power companies are experiencing their greatest line losses when power consumption is at it's greatest. Remember the calculation is the square of current flow time's the resistance of the power lines. At this time most small home solar systems are producing more power than they are using. This excess power is going to the closest power users in that area. (Path of least resistance) This "local" power production during the heat of the day actually helps power companies overcome losses during the highest time of loss of power transmission Fact 5: LESS ENERGY LOST The power company loses less energy (less power) because of home systems. In effect they deliver power to homes nearby with practically no power loss because they get to charge for the photovoltaic power produced and delivered by a neighbor. Fact 6: The home photovoltaic electrical producer draws energy back from the power grid when it is supplying less power and therefore the power transmission losses are less for the power company. Fact 7: On a monthly basis, overproduction of power by the "home PV system" is power given to the electrical distribution system owner!

Jim Washington 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Does Westar have to compensate them for power going TO the grid? If so then a fixed connection fee (rather than a different KWH rate) may be in order. This needs a lot more consideration. In Florida after Maria there were reports that solar panel owners were prohibited from switching to solar panel local generation EVEN THOUGH Florida Power and Light service was completely out.

Jerry Laurendine 3 weeks, 1 day ago

The compensation for those who have photovoltaic Power Systems is "net metering". This means that if they generate a thousand kilowatthours in a month and their house consumes a thousand kilowatthours that month then they pay for zero kilowatt hours. However they do pay a monthly connection see. Everyone pays a monthly connection fee. In Florida the reason they are told not to produce power with their photovoltaic system is so that they do not backfeed the power grid and kill lineman workers and others who accidentally come in contact with power.

Jerry Laurendine 3 weeks, 1 day ago

The compensation for those who have photovoltaic Power Systems is "net metering". This means that if they generate a thousand kilowatthours in a month and their house consumes a thousand kilowatthours that month then they pay for zero kilowatt hours. However they do pay a monthly connection fee. Everyone pays a monthly connection fee. In Florida the reason they are told not to produce power with their photovoltaic system is so that they do not backfeed the power grid and kill lineman workers and others who accidentally come in contact with power.

Bob Smith 2 weeks, 5 days ago

It's always interesting when new single-topic posters pop up from nowhere.

Sign in to comment

loading...