A couple of hearings coming up in Senate Utilities:
SB 347 will establish goals for energy efficiency in Kansas. It's been an endless source of frustration for climate activists that Kansas still does not have meaningful energy efficiency policies. The state consistently ranks in the very bottom of state rankings in energy efficiency. We have often said, “the cheapest watt and the cleanest watt is the watt you don't use” and this bill is our latest attempt to get this idea put into legislation.
SB 322 is a bill regarding net metering for distributed solar power – people putting panels on their homes. In 2014 our group, Kansans for Clean Energy, negotiated a compromise that was intended to save net metering, which the utilities wanted to repeal completely. The deal limited the size of residential solar arrays and eliminated “banking” power over the course of a year, and gave the Kansas Corporation Commission the authority to impose demand charges on distributed solar.
At the time we believed that we could convince the KCC to include the benefits of distributed solar, as well as the costs to the utilities, in their calculations, but we were wrong. They didn't even allow our allies to intervene (legally become part of) the case. The KCC has given the utilities permission to put a demand charge on solar users, and although they haven't done so yet, the impending threat has significantly undercut the residential solar business in Kansas.
Distributed solar is amazingly cheap, even compared to 2 or 3 years ago. Investor-owned utilities have continually complained that solar on homes costs them money or unfairly puts the burden of maintaining the grid on non-solar users, but they've never had to substantiate those claims. They've put forward policies that undermine freedom of choice for homeowners in Kansas. And, oh by the way, Kansas' utilities rates are ridiculously high, which is really what this is all about – 10% return on investment for utility shareholders.
This bill would reverse some of the damage done by the 2014 bill.
The hearings on these two bills will be on Tuesday (proponents, meaning us) and Wednesday (opponents) at 1:30 pm in the Senate Utilities Committee (Room 152-S). If you can to attend, please do – we'd like to have good representation from supporters of clean energy and climate action.