Protect KY's homegrown solar industry. Defeat HB 227.

 

UPDATE, 2.15.2018

HB 227, an anti-rooftop solar bill, passed through the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee on February 8th. It currently has two readings on the House floor and could come up for a vote at any time. However, lawmakers have filed 20 amendments on the bill, a sign that many think the current bill is bad policy.  However, none of the amendments are an acceptable solution for solar businesses and advocates. 

There are indications that House GOP leaders MAY try to jam the bill through their chamber by the end of this week. They could do that by recommitting the bill to the House Natural Resources today, voting on a tweaked version of the bill in that committee this afternoon, and bringing the bill up for a vote on the House Floor tomorrow morning, stripped of all the complicating amendments. We don't know if that's their plan, of course. But there are signs it may be. And we must be prepared. 

It's essential for everyone to call 800-372-7181 and leave a message for "my Representative, my Senator, members of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, and members of House leadership." The message can simply be: "Protect homegrown solar jobs in Kentucky. Vote NO on HB 227."

In late January, this bad bill appeared stalled in committee. After strong testimony from solar industry representatives and advocates, Chairman 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.

But it was given new life in early February when GOP leaders in the House took the unusual step of adding three new members to the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee. Their additional votes were enough to pass the bill through committee and send it on its way.

Your calls and emails and conversations with your neighbors and your legislators are powerful. But the utilities and their lobbying firms are pushing hard.  It's important to keep up the pressure! The bill now goes to the full House for consideration and a vote.

Urgent actions to defeat HB 227, a bill that endangers rooftop solar in Kentucky.

Upcoming Clean Energy
Lobby Day

February 22 – Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance lobby day; meet in Capitol Annex Room 149 from 8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. for orientation

  • Call 800-372-7181 to leave a message for "my representative, senator, all members of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, and all members of House Leadership." Suggested message: "Protect homegrown solar jobs in Kentucky. Vote NO on HB 227."

  

Background information

Kentuckians want affordable and clean energy. We value independence and self-reliance. And as costs continue to fall, it’s no wonder that rooftop solar is an increasingly popular choice for many households, farmers and businesses. In recent years our homegrown solar industry has expanded steadily, creating good new jobs in every region.

But right now, Kentucky lawmakers are pushing an extreme anti-solar bill, HB 227, that will smash independent solar businesses and shatter our opportunity to create a thriving clean energy economy.

This bad bill was introduced by Reps. Jim Gooch, Larry Brown, Sal Santoro, Jeff Greer and Matt Castlen. 

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.

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 by:

  • Rewriting Kentucky’s net-metering rules so that monopoly utility companies – and not Kentucky’s residents, workers, or solar businesses – can benefit from solar energy.

  • Ending net-metering as we know it and slash by about 65% (or more) the value of the credit utilities give to customers for energy from their rooftop solar systems.

  • Establishing 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.

  • Grandfathering in existing net-metered systems, but ending those arrangements when a property is sold. 

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.