Says SB 214 would penalize solar owners
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 27, 2017) — The Kentucky Solar Industries Association (KSIA) said in a press release today that “Kentucky’s burgeoning solar power industry is under siege in Frankfort and could be critically damaged by legislation being considered by state lawmakers.”
“Senate Bill 214 would penalize existing solar owners, burden new solar panel buyers with heavy and unnecessary regulations and ultimately hurt small business owners in a fledgling industry that has the potential for tremendous growth,” said the release. “SB 214, sponsored by Sen. Jared Carpenter (R-Berea) is scheduled to be heard Wednesday by the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee that Carpenter chairs.”
Matt Partymiller, KSIA chairman, said, “Put simply, this bill is meant to strangle the independent Kentucky solar industry before it grows by ensuring over-regulation and significant uncertainty for solar customers. That means Kentucky will be a state entirely dependent on public utilities and their unpredictable energy rates.”
The legislation “seeks to rapidly end privately owned solar power as of July 15 of this year by allowing utilities to push solar panel owners into a separate class from other ratepayers,” said KSIA.
“Under existing law, homeowners and business with alternative energy systems such as solar panels are permitted to send the small amount of excess power they generate to their local utility’s grid and then receive a one-for-one credit towards using that power at a later date,” said KSIA. “But utilities want to shove solar owners into this new rate class, which would likely result in targeted higher fees for solar owners to connect to the existing power grid, higher monthly fixed charges and higher costs for utility-delivered energy.”
Partymiller said, “Under this rate classification, the solar customer could feed no excess power to the grid and still be subjected to higher fees than their neighbors. Senate Bill 214 also ensures that utilities only need to consider costs associated with solar energy in their rate design. Benefits like producing valuable extra power during peak demand periods that reduce the strain on utility power plants are specifically not considered.”
The solar industry employs more than 1,000 people in Kentucky – mostly in the installation and manufacturing of solar panels and equipment—primarily in Jefferson, Fayette, Barren, Warren, Kenton, Daviess, Pike, Boone, McCracken and Boyd counties—according to The Solar Foundation.
In 2015, 1.1 megawatts of solar capacity were installed in Kentucky, a 71 percent increase over 2014, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, said KSIA. Kentucky ranks 37th nationally in installed solar capacity.