The fight over solar in Kentucky - where the solar industry has fear and hope

02/08/2018 02:03 PM

House Bill 227, a utility-backed anti-solar bill cleared a House committee by a slim margin on Thursday.

As coal county lawmakers and utilities applauded the passage, environmentalists and those in Kentucky’s still infant solar industry fear for the worst.

Matt Partymiller, with Solar Energy Solutions — a regional solar company based in Lexington with offices in the Midwest, talked with Pure Politics hours after the vote about the bill, which he

The legislation would reduce the net-metering retail rate credit given to those producing energy and selling that energy back to utility companies. Currently the rate is set at a one-to-one retail rate credit, but would be moved under the legislation to a 0.3 percent credit.

“Utilities have done a great job at messaging that’s a subsidy and they want it changed,” Partymiller said, adding that the solar industry is having a difficult time even meeting with lawmakers on the issue.

Partymiller said that utilities are building more solar than they are distributing and are charging more than they’re crediting under the legislation.

“What this bill is about in our eyes is their efforts to reclaim their monopoly,” he said. “We don’t think the utilities are opposed to solar, their opposed to others owning that solar, and by compensating them at a lower rate than they themselves build solar generation — they’re effectively reinstating their position as monopoly entities.”

Partymiller said solar generation customers should be paying fair cost for the grid, rather than the energy being transacted — he’s hoping a neutral agency like the PSC take a look at the utility claims and help arrive at a fair value.

Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics available exclusively on Spectrum News. Pure Politics is the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like his coverage of the backlog of DNA rape kits waiting to be tested in Kentucky. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Pure Politics airs weeknight at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Nick on Twitter @NStorm_Politics. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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