Kansans wishing to install solar panels on their homes saw a major cost barrier removed today by the Kansas Supreme Court in a ruling that determined Evergy’s (formerly Westar Energy) demand charge was a discriminatory rate and not permissible by law. The opinion of the court was delivered by Brownback appointee Justice Caleb Stegall who wrote the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) “erred by approving a discriminatory rate in violation of K.S.A. 66-117d and that the Court of Appeals order is reversed”. Stegall’s full opinion is available here.
“This decision strikes down needless financial penalties for rooftop solar ratepayers and moves our state toward further development of solar and wind power. The Court recognized that unjustified demand charges on solar generation are contrary to long-standing federal and Kansas law”, Robert Eye, Climate + Energy Project Board member and one of the Sierra Club attorneys who argued the case.
The Climate + Energy Project (CEP), while not a party to the Supreme Court case, has been fighting for fair policies for ratepayers and solar businesses for more than six years. CEP intervened before the KCC on behalf of the solar industry, supported legislation to end discriminatory ratemaking, and spearheaded the statewide Save Kansas Solar campaign to raise awareness about the discriminatory law.
“We’re pleased with the Court’s ruling as it opens up opportunities for Kansans to install solar panels on their homes and save money on their bills at a time when all tools to lower electric rates should be accessible,” said Dorothy Barnett, Executive Director for the Climate + Energy Project. “As we move forward in state energy planning, the Court’s ruling removes a barrier to solar adoption and positions us to make progress on policies that support the advancement of solar integration for all Kansans without onerous, unfair charges.”
CEP was proud to partner with Vote Solar, Earthjustice, Sierra Club, and many other environmental partners to support solar energy in Kansas and will continue to work on ways to advance renewable energy access across the state.
The Kansas Corporation Commission or Westar have twenty-one days to appeal the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision. In the meantime, the Court reversed the judgement of the KCC and remanded the matter back to the Commission.
Solar supporters who attended the Supreme Court hearing.