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Energy and Environment

Westar Begins $200K Solar Panel Project; Petitions To Reduce Benefits For Consumers Who Go Solar

The largest electric utility in Kansas has begun a $200,000 solar panel project in Lawrence.

Topeka-based Westar Energy is installing 160 solar panels at its maintenance facility and service center in southeast Lawrence.

The utility is also installing solar panels on buildings it owns in Manhattan and Shawnee.

Community members can also use the company's website to monitor how the solar panels are performing.

In addition to the solar panel project, Westar has also joined other utilities in Kansas to petition legislators to rewrite a state renewable energy law.

They want the so-called "Net metering law" to provide less of a financial benefit to consumers who install solar panels or windmills.

Under the state's "net metering" law, consumers who use renewable resources and generate more electricity than they need get full credit for each extra kilowatt hour they send to the electric grid.

Westar Energy says the practice does not account for fixed costs faced by utilities, such as power plants and lines.

But solar-energy device inventor Mark Moser of Manhattan says the changes sought by utilities would make Kansas among the worst states for solar businesses.