Solar in Our Communities and DG at the KCC

5 months ago | Jun 30, 2017
By: Rachel Myslivy, Program Director
Share us:

The Climate + Energy Project (CEP) supports the ambitious deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency, in policy and practice.  If you’ve been following our videos and social media posts you know that we have been talking about distributed generation a lot lately.  The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) currently is reviewing rate designs that will impact distributed generation through an investigative docket.  The KCC makes policies that impact current and future energy development.  Here's the latest news roundup:

 

We’re committed to supporting distributed generation in Kansas for many reasons, some of which you heard during our recent CEP LIVE interviews (check out the Distributed Generation Playlist).  Today we want to share yet another perspective - or three! - with you.  


Solar in Our CommunitiesSolar In Our Communities panelists discuss the role of solar energy in our homes and communities. Panelists include:

  • Forrest Chumley,  a PhD molecular biologist with a 37-year history of conducting research that matters for food, energy and the environment.  

  • Daniel Swenson,  a Mechanical Engineer whose work has focused on structural simulation and software development, primarily related to energy development.

  • William Dorsett, President of the Flint Hills Renewable Energy and Efficiency Cooperative (FHREEC)

The panel explores why properly studying the value of solar in Kansas is important for the state's energy future.  "It’s important to me because I want to pay my fair share,” explains Forrest Chumley.  "I certainly don’t want the benefit we’re getting from solar to come with a penalty towards other people who are on the system.  But, it does need to be fair.  The charges for Distributed Generation can’t be structured in a way that prevents people from doing what we’re talking about.  It has to be balanced correctly.”


The Climate + Energy Project believes that it’s possible to design  fair rate plans that work for DG customers, utilities, and the growing solar and distributed wind industry. A comprehensive and forward thinking investigation on distributed generation would help set a solid course for electricity regulations in Kansas.


Although Kansas has some of the greatest potential for producing solar power, we’re barely scratching the surface of this ample resource.  Only  one tenth of one percent - or about 700 customers - utilize Distributed Generation.  Daniel Swensen explained: "As a society, I’d like to see us commit to this kind of technology. As an engineer, I just see so much potential to have a very clean energy production system that is quite cost effective, because costs will go down.”  


The proposed rate changes to distributed generation customers are having an impact on potential customers, as FHREEC’s President, Bill Dorsett, explains:  "We tell people up front that there may be a solar tariff coming up, and you may be charged more for your power, or for being able to connect to the power lines.  We’ve had a number of people who are waiting until that decision is made by the Kansas Corporation Commission . . . Uncertainty is the enemy of most businesses.”


The deadline for public comments on this docket has closed, but you can still write a letter to the editor, and encourage Kansas Corporation Commission to take their time in studying how distributed generation affects ratepayers, DG owner, the grid and power providers. All consequences of a new rate design must be considered.  We’ll keep you posted on the outcomes of this rate case.  Until then, thanks for helping us work towards a clean energy future in Kansas!