(Columbia, MO) On Friday, July 5, Kansas City Power and Light (KCP&L) filed a notice with their regulating agency, the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC), requesting permission to stop offering solar rebates as of September 3. Yesterday the PSC responded by inviting interested parties to file their input on KCP&L’s motion by July 30.
Solar rebates, available to all customers of KCP&L, are $2,000 for every kilowatt (kW) of solar they install (about six solar panels). Typical homes can fit around 4 kW on their roofs, so their rebates are usually around $8,000, and the panels typically produce enough power to provide around half of a home’s electric needs. Many businesses have installed 25 kW solar systems, with a maximum rebate of $50,000. “These rebates are really the life-blood of the solar market in Missouri,” said Renew Missouri’s Director, PJ Wilson. “We’re disappointed in KCP&L because of the sudden nature of this announcement, and we hope they remember that an overwhelming majority of their ratepayers voted to create this solar incentive and that they want it to stay in place.”
Missouri made history in 2008 with its passage of the statewide ballot initiative Proposition C, which passed with 66% of the vote – the highest vote in the United States in support of a Renewable Energy Standard. The initiative created requirements for the state’s largest utilities, including Ameren, KCP&L and Empire, to ramp up to getting at least 15 percent of their power from clean renewable energy by 2021. The initiative also required utilities to begin offering solar rebates in January of 2010, and to continue offering them indefinitely.
KCP&L’s claim that they’re out of funds for the popular solar rebate program is erroneous, Renew Missouri asserts, because the utility has a variety of tools it can implement to keep the program going. Examples include averaging costs out over 10 years, which the law requires, amortizing solar rebate costs, comparing the cost of new renewable energy with new coal and other fossil fuel plants, and otherwise spreading out the costs over time to avoid rate-shock.
Renew Missouri, along with the Missouri Solar Energy Industries Association and others, have several legal complaints pending before the PSC alleging the utilities’ lack of compliance with the law.