Kentucky’s Public Service Commission has rejected a proposal by two utilities that would have drastically reduced the value of solar energy for customers.
Backers of rooftop solar say the decision means it’s still a good financial investment.
As Carrie Ray, energy programs coordinator for Mountain Association explained, LG&E and KU proposed to drastically lower the amount solar customers are credited for excess electricity they feed back into the grid.
Instead, the commission chose new rates that will only slightly reduce the value of solar for certain customers.
“Because of this ruling,” said Ray, “solar still makes sense for most homeowners and businesses.”
The Mountain Association, along with the The Kentucky Solar Energy Society, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth and the Metropolitan Housing Coalition, intervened in the case.
The utilities maintain rooftop solar customers don’t provide energy generation, transmission or distribution benefits to the power grid.
Andy McDonald — a member of the Kentucky Solar Energy Society and director of Apogee Climate & Energy Transitions — said customers with solar panels already in place before the decision will operate under the original net-metering rates, currently about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour for residential customers, and 12 cents for small commercial customers.
He added the ruling also prevents the utilities from proposing new changes to net metering for the next few years.
“You know,” said McDonald, “we have at least the stability of knowing that these rates will remain in effect for all net-metering customers ’til sometime in 2025.”
Ray said research shows renewable-energy technologies like solar can help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and combat the effects of climate change, and provide economic benefits.
“Solar has got to be a much bigger part of our energy mix,” said Ray. “And you know, we’re encouraged that utilities are investing in solar. We see KU, they’re building solar arrays, and we think that they should keep doing that.”
Last year the solar industry invested more than $14 million in the Commonwealth.
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