In a victory for renewable energy, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that customers generating their own energy cannot be charged any more than customers that do not. The ruling now makes it unlawful to charge extra fees on residential solar and wind generation customers.
A lawsuit filed by Earthjustice, the Sierra Club and Vote Solar contested Kansas Corporate Commission’s approval of “demand charges” on such residential customers, which has become a national trend led by utility lobbyists, a press release stated. The court ruled the charge was “simply price discrimination.”
“As the Kansas Supreme Court recognized, charging solar customers more for their electricity is price discrimination, plain and simple,” David Bender, the Earthjustice attorney who argued the case, said. “Kansans, like all Americans, have a right to the free solar energy delivered to their roofs every day without fear of illegal utility charges that serve only to preserve the utility’s anti-competitive monopoly and prop up uneconomic fossil fuels. We are happy the court agreed with us.”
The ruling stated that the “rate design is unlawful and the [KCC] erred by approving a discriminatory rate in violation” of Kansas law.
“Solar is a modern, reliable, and affordable way to provide the energy that the Kansas economy needs to thrive,” Rick Gilliam, program director of DG Regulatory Policy at Vote Solar. “By bringing electricity rates in line with state law, and prohibiting arbitrary discrimination against local solar energy producers, this ruling will help Kansas families and small businesses build more resilient communities.”
The ruling went on to confirm that the imposition of extra fees on customers generating their own energy from renewables to help offset their utility purchases was prohibited by Kansas law.
“With today’s Supreme Court ruling, we make headway toward fairness and justice for solar and renewable energy users in Kansas,” Zack Pistora, Kansas Lobbyist at the Sierra Club, said. “We knew that it was morally and economically unfair for the KCC and Westar (now Evergy) to overcharge Kansas homeowners for generating their own electricity, but thought it to be illegal too. Fortunately, Kansas law agrees.”