OLATHE, Kan. – Kansans with solar panels on their homes disapprove of a proposed rate hike by Evergy.
Mike Pierce had solar panels installed on the roof of his Olathe home in January. It’s something he had considered for years and is now glad he followed through on.
“My average electric bill was $202 a month,” Pierce said. “It’s gone from $202 to about $14 a month.”
But Pierce could soon pay more if state regulators approve a proposal by Evergy. The utility company wants to charge solar users a grid access fee of $3 per kilowatt generation – or an average of about $25 a month.
“It’s very short-sighted,” Pierce said. “They’re not thinking long-term. The future really is renewable energy.”
In an email to FOX4, an Evergy spokesperson wrote the following:
“Evergy continues to work toward establishing rates that are sustainable to allow the growth of solar in Kansas without burdening non-solar customers with extra costs. This proposal helps ensure that all customers are helping to cover the costs of the infrastructure that provides them reliable electricity when they need it.”
Matt Dreier, the marketing director for RisingSun Solar, said solar users are already a net benefit to the grid.
“Every kilowatt produced by the sun that’s not used right then by that homeowner is sent to the grid, and that’s just one less shovel full of coal they have to throw in their plant,” he said.
Dreier said instead of Evergy imposing a fair fee across the board for everyone, they are singling out solar customers.
“Penalizing someone for using renewable energy, penalizing someone for creating their own energy — it just doesn’t make sense,” he added.
If the rate design does not pass, Evergy wants to also charge all of its customers in the Sunflower State a minimum of $35 per month, which solar advocates believe would mostly hurt lower income families.
“There’s at the very minimum 130,000 people that are going to be directly affected,” Dreier said. “They just won’t be able to afford it.”
“This is their attempt at couching a raise, a rate hike on the backs of solar customers and it’s unfair,” Pierce added.
Evergy has tried to place a demand fee on solar users before, but the Kansas Supreme Court struck it down.
The Kansas Corporation Commission will continue to accept written public comments until Dec 21.