Statehouse Live: Net metering rules to be reviewed

? A public hearing is scheduled this week on rules that will govern how to hook up small renewable power operations to the electric grid in Kansas.

Renewable energy advocates are unhappy with proposed rules before the three-member Kansas Corporation Commission.

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council said they “read more like guidelines for protective measures utilities should take to protect themselves from net-metered systems.”

Maril Hazlett, associate director of the Lawrence-based Climate and Energy Project, said the problem is that the proposed rules leave connection and contract standards up to each investor-owned utility. Other states set uniform rules that all entities abide by, she said.

“Most states are uniform and are able to create a marketplace. We need that to give Kansas the same chance,” Hazlett said. “These regs will make the difference over whether people in Kansas do net metering or not,” she said.

Net metering is when an individual, business or community sets up a renewable energy source, such as a wind turbine, and receives a credit for the electricity produced.

In May 2009, the Kansas Legislature passed an energy bill that included the Net Metering and Easy Connection Act. It was part of wide-ranging legislation that included the settlement between Gov. Mark Parkinson and Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build an 895-megawatt coal-burning electric power plant in southwest Kansas. That project is still under review.

The KCC was authorized to create rules governing this system. In April, the KCC staff issued proposed regulations. The KCC hearing will be held at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at the KCC office at 1500 SW Arrowhead Road in Topeka.