KCC ruling concerns leaders in renewable energy

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A recent order by the Kansas Corporation Commission allows utility companies, like Westar Energy, to charge customers who also generate solar or wind energy more. Westar says it’s simply the price of maintaining the energy grid, but advocates of renewable energy call it unfair.

Justin Dye says it’s tough hearing about the KCC’s ruling for electric users who also generate their own power. Recently, the commission ruled companies can charge these users higher rates to be part of the energy grid.

“We’re kind of planning for the worst and hoping for the best and we’re going to stick around,” said Justin Dye, the owner of Sol Purpose Renewable Energy Solutions.

Dye opened his business this year in Wichita and says people in Kansas are interested in renewable energy. He and others agree this ruling could turn people away.

“That’s something we anticipate that there will be rate cases filed and potentially costing those with solar energy more money than they can save on solar panels,” said Dorothy Barnett, the Executive Director of the Climate and Energy Project.

“I am concerned slightly about the potential for it really disrupting the industry, however, we don’t know exactly how they’re going to come out and design that new rate system for solar clients,” said Dye.

But Westar says the ruling will allow them to modernize rate designs.

“Anyone and everyone who uses the energy grid, either for that back-up power or to earn private solar generation credit for selling energy back should help cover its costs,” said Jaycee Breese, Corporate Communications Representative at Westar Energy

Westar couldn’t provide KSN with what this change could look like for those who generate their own power, but we will be following the order as it progresses.

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