Kansas Corporation Commission Ruling A Win for Solar and Customers

KCC Rejects Discriminatory Fees for Solar and Rate Hikes for All Customers

TOPEKA, KS -- Today, the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) unanimously rejected Evergy’s proposed rate changes for residential solar customers, denying the utility’s attempt to impose a discriminatory charge on customer-owned solar as well as the utility’s proposed alternative plan to impose a $35 minimum bill for all customers (Docket No. 18-WSEE-328-RTS). The Climate + Energy Project, the Sierra Club, and Vote Solar  opposed both proposed changes. 

“Today’s victory is a big win for those who value energy choice and is a testament to the value of the public voice, said Dorothy Barnett, Executive Director of Climate + Energy Project. “More than 1000 Kansans opposed Evergy’s grid access fee and minimum bill. We appreciate the KCC’s consideration of fair and just policies for all ratepayers. It’s time for a discussion about the economic, environmental, and grid benefits rooftop solar can provide for Kansas and we look forward to that conversation.”

In today’s decision, the Commission rejected Evergy’s proposed monthly solar fee as too similar to the charge the Supreme Court previously found discriminatory. It also rejected Evergy’s proposed $35 minimum bill, which would have targeted all of Evergy’s customers regardless of their electricity use or ability to pay. Minimum bills disproportionately harm low-wealth and fixed income families, and discourage energy conservation and investment in energy efficiency by reducing customers’ ability to control their electric bill. 

“This ruling is a victory not only for clean and renewable energy in Kansas, but for all of Evergy’s customers,” said Ty Gorman, Kansas Campaign Representative at the Sierra Club, “as they will now avoid the unfair and unnecessary minimum bill that Evergy was proposing. While there is certainly more conversation and needed improvements ahead when it comes to justice for utility customers, improving the grid by expanding clean energy, and fair rates for solar, what the KCC did today was big."

“Local clean energy saves all grid customers valuable dollars by generating energy right where it is used, which reduces a grid's operating costs. Today’s decision allows all Kansans to continue to benefit from the investment that they or their neighbors are making in their communities, and prevents a harmful, discriminatory fee on local investment,” said Claudine Custodio, Regulatory Manager at Vote Solar. “Critically, today’s decision also rejects a new minimum bill that would have had an outsize impact on low-wealth or fixed income Kansas families. A solar future can shine brightly again in Kansas.”

Commissioners encouraged all parties to work together outside of Evergy’s rate making process to consider future rooftop solar policies. The Climate + Energy Project, the Sierra Club, and Vote Solar are committed to protecting Kansans’ right to invest in and save with local, homegrown clean energy.

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.

About Vote Solar

Vote Solar’s mission is to make solar a mainstream energy resource across the U.S. Since 2002, Vote Solar has been working to lower solar costs and expand solar access. A 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Vote Solar advocates for state policies and programs needed to repower our electric grid with clean energy. Vote Solar works to remove regulatory barriers and implement key policies needed to bring solar to scale. Learn more at VoteSolar.org

About Climate and Energy Project

The Climate + Energy Project (CEP) is a state-wide nonprofit that builds resilience in Kansas through equitable clean energy solutions and climate action. CEP connects people, organizations, and ideas; presents science-based facts; facilitates critical thinking and community engagement; and co-creates equitable and productive solutions. For more information, visit www.climateandenergy.org