On November 5th, the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) held a virtual public hearing to get citizen input on Evergy’s new rate proposal to either add $3 per kilowatt grid access fee to solar energy users, or to have a $35 minimum bill for all residential customers no matter how little energy they buy from Evergy. So far, we’ve tracked about 100 written comments opposed to both of these fees. All 53 Kansans who spoke at the public hearing last week opposed the fees. You can still submit a public comment on this proposal by 5:00 pm on December 21st.
Around 100 Kansans submitted a comments online, via email, or written letter, and 53 gave public comments during the public hearing on November 5th.
What Was Said?
Retired physician and current CEP Board Member, Craig Yorke, highlighted the health benefits of solar energy as well as other benefits of rooftop solar. “Evergy has claimed that conventional customers are subsidizing solar customers, but their analysis has really ignored solar’s positive externalities, like climate resilience and carbon reduction, health benefits for all of us. It’s health benefits like fewer cases of asthma, fewer cases of emphysema, fewer cases of heavy metal exposure are clear to me as a physician. I’d hope they’d be clear to you as regulators and policymakers. Evergy’s business model for decades has been to own and sell power, the more the better. Now they have about 1,200 solar customers in 2019 revenue of about 5.1 billion dollars. This moment of climate instability – this long emergency, if you will – can nudge us to reexamine that model.”
Board certified energy professional & solar owner, Michelle Milburn, explained “policy states that no utility providers should consider the use of any renewable energy source as a basis for establishing higher rates or charges for any service or commodity sold to such a customer. The proposed grid access fee is just another discriminatory rate. Just like the demand rate, the proposed minimum bill, in addition to discouraging energy efficiency – it will ultimately create other cost shifts and disproportionately burden our most vulnerable Kansans.”
Wichita resident and Solar owner Jane Byrnes said, “about a fourth of our (Wichita) residents will be over the age of 65 in just a couple of years. I didn’t want to forego food to stay within my Social Security income. The thing is it’s not like I’m [as a solar energy generator] stealing anything, I sell my excess energy to Evergy when there’s plenty of sun. I’m happy to share it with other Kansans. I think I’m helping to conserve energy. I want to help Westar and Evergy, and I want to help the planet, and I want to help myself. I just think it’s inappropriate to waste the sun. I’m proud that Evergy harvests wind power so well now – I hope Evergy makes a good win – win economically effective business plan around solar. I urge Kansas to prepare more wisely for its future for our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren and to improve incentives for solar energy.”
Here are some additional articles covering the hearing:
- After Kansas court rejected solar fee, utility seeks new ‘grid access’ charge
- KCC holds public hearing on solar rates
- ‘It just doesn’t make sense’
- Kate Gutschenritter: KCC should stop Evergy’s attack on homegrown solar
You can watch the entire hearing on KCC’s YouTube page.
What is Next?
Join us for a screening of Jonathan Scott’s Power Trip followed by a panel & community discussion.
Property Brothers’ Jonathan Scott journeys across the United States to uncover the obstacles and opportunities to achieving clean, renewable energy.
WRITE AN OPINION PIECE
The Kansas Reflector published CEP’s Executive Director, Dorothy Barnett’s opinion piece. Dorothy wrote, “the advantages of solar investments have been thwarted by many utility companies across the state, most specifically Evergy, the state’s largest utility provider.” To read the entire article, click this link.
If you are passionate about more equitable energy, elevating more positive renewable energy in Kansas,or would like to share a professional or personal experience, write an op-ed. Contact CEP at email@example.com if you would like some guidance writing an op-ed.
You can still submit a comment to the KCC. Comments are accepted until December 21st before 5:00 pm.