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HB 227: solar power under attack
The solar power industry faces state and federal hurdles. Photo: energyonesolar.com

Updated story: Kentuckians for the Commonwealth sent out this blast on Friday: House Bill 227, an anti-rooftop solar bill, passed through the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee Thursday morning. Several Republican lawmakers expressed reservations about the bill yet voted "yes" anyway.

This bill was given new life last week when GOP leaders in the House took the unusual step of adding three new members to the House committee, so their additional votes would be enough to pass this anti-solar bill.

That action was taken after the bill stalled in committee. After strong testimony from solar industry representatives and advocates, Committee Chair Jim Gooch realized he did not have the votes to pass the bill. So he abruptly adjourned the meeting without a vote. He acknowledged that this issue has gotten more public outcry than any other issue in the General Assembly other than pensions and medical marijuana."

Call, call, call - sunbeams shone on these shenanigans will cauterize this bill!!

Rep. Jim Gooch (R-House District 12-Davies (Part), Hopkins (Part), McLean, Webster), he of climate change denying fame, switched parties from Democrat to Republican and found his true home. Rewarded for the change with his old committee chairmanship, Gooch heads up the Natural Resources & Energy Committee in the House, a job he held when the Dems were in power. Below is a list of the Committee members

The Committee was going to take up HB 227 today, but Gooch pulled the bill at the last minute. Some activists believe it was because of opposition expressed to lawmakers.

While President Trump guts the solar industry from the federal side, imposing a large tariff on Chinese imports that is predicted to cost the industry around 80,000 jobs, Kentucky lawmakers are also doing their part to kill the industry in its cradle.

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth sent out the following email blast -

"HB 227 re-writes the rules to reward monopoly utility companies and punish consumers. It guts an existing law, known as net metering, that gives qualifying solar customers in Kentucky a one-for-one credit for energy their rooftop systems provide to the grid. If passed, the bill would put rooftop solar out-of-reach for most Kentuckians.

Background information

Net-metering is the name for a popular state policy which gives customers a one-for-one credit on their utility bills for energy delivered to the grid by rooftop solar panels or by other forms of locally installed renewable energy.

HB 227 seeks to reward and protect utility monopolies, while restricting consumer choice and hobbling Kentucky's independent solar energy industry. It would:

  • Rewrite Kentucky's net-metering rules so that monopoly utility companies - and not Kentucky's residents, employers, workers or independent renewable energy businesses - can benefit and profit from solar energy from here on out.
  • End net-metering as we know it and slash by about 65% the value of the credit utilities give to customers for energy from their rooftop solar systems.
  • Establish a new value for solar energy credits that is based only on the costs claimed by the utility, while disregarding the many benefits that net-metered solar energy systems deliver to utilities and all non-participating customers.
  • Extend and codify Kentucky's ban on 3rd party ownership, true community-owned solar, and virtual net-metering.

Taken together, these provisions could bring rooftop solar installations to a screeching halt across Kentucky, while ensuring that electric utility monopolies are the only ones permitted to benefit and profit from the power of the sun.

Even before the introduction of HB 227, Kentucky's solar energy laws are among the most restrictive in the nation. For example, Kentucky already:

  • Caps the size of net-metered systems at 30 kW. (The limit in West Virginia, Indiana and Virginia are 2,000, 1,000, and 500 kW respectively.)
  • Caps the total capacity of net-metered systems at 1% of a utility's peak load, a fraction of what other states are already achieving.
  • Provides no state tax incentives for customers who install their own renewable energy systems.
  • Prohibits 3rd party ownership of renewable energy systems, bans virtual net-metering (the ability to assign net-metering credits to other customer accounts), and prohibits independently owned community solar farms.

Kentuckians won't be surprised to learn that HB 227 is being pushed by a well-funded industry lobbying effort. A front group calling itself "Kentuckians For Solar Fairness" is now running ads in favor of the extreme anti-solar bill. That PR effort is funded by the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA), which is housed in a Washington, DC-based lobbying firm backed by major utilities and oil and gas companies. In recent years, CEA was found to have submitted fraudulent public comments to the Federal Regulatory Commission and on a petition about a utility rate case in Wisconsin. Yet representatives of the CEA were recently invited to testify before an interim joint committee of the Kentucky General Assembly about solar net-metering."


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