Kansas state legislators have rejected a measure that would have ended net-metering, the rate system that allows homeowners to sell excess solar and wind-generated power to their utilities.
Instead, Midwest Energy News reports, lawmakers passed a compromise that preserves net metering but lowers the reimbursement rate to the utility’s avoided cost.
The three investor owned utilities in Kansas had backed the repeal effort, part of a broad initiative by the American Legislative Exchange Council to quash renewable energy initiatives around the country. But lawmakers in Kansas weren’t buying it.
Utilities objected to net-metering rates
Westar Energy, one of the Kansas utilities in favor of the repeal, had complained net metering rules were forcing it to pay customers retail prices for a wholesale commodity, The Topeka Capital-Journal said in a report in February.
Echoing claims that other utilities around the country have made, Westar executive Mark Schreiber said, “When a customer generates some of his or her own power and gets paid the full retail rate of 10 cents, the result is that other customers pay his share of the cost of the entire infrastructure that he continues to use.”
Schreiber favored reimbursement rates at the utility’s “avoided cost” rather than the full retail price, and lawmakers agreed. News reports didn’t specify what the new reimbursement rate would be.
The bill also reduces the size of residential solar installations that can qualify for net metering, from 25 kW to 15 kW. For commercial projects, the limit was reduced from 200 kW to 100 kW, Midwest Energy News said.
Separately, state representatives in Kansas also defeated a bill last month that would have repealed renewable energy standards that were adopted in 2009, according to The Associated Press. The vote in the House was 77-42 to kill a measure that had the backing of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and had been approved in the state Senate.
The standards require utilities to provide 20% of their power from renewable sources by 2020.
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