solar power

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — The state’s largest utility wants to charge customers with solar panels about $25 a month, even if their homes pull almost no electricity off the grid.

If courts and regulators reject that idea, power-provider Evergy’s backup proposal would charge all customers — not just those harvesting power on their roofs — a minimum of $35 a month just for plugging into its system.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

Wichita  Kansas is a national leader in wind energy, but a new report shows the state lags in the adoption of other so-called green technologies.

Find out how Kansas compares to the rest of the country.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service/File photo

Large-scale commercial wind farms won’t be built in Sedgwick County.

Flickr: MG Green creative commons

Solar panel users in Kansas continue to pay higher electricity bills as they wait for utility company Evergy to keep a promise made during this year’s legislative session to remove a recently added fee.

Evergy says it will follow through on the promise by the end of May. But state regulators ultimately hold the power to decide whether or not to approve the request to change some solar customers’ rates.

Deborah Shaar / KMUW

A large ground-based solar array system being built at Maize High School is nearly complete, and will soon join the power grid.

Kansas News Service/File photo

Westar has reached an agreement with staff of the Kansas Corporation Commission and several other interested parties that would reduce Westar’s annual revenue by $66 million.

For the average residential customer, that will mean a decrease of about $3.50 a month.

Westar's original request was for a $52 million increase.

Michael Mazengarb / flickr Creative Commons

Solar energy advocates protested Westar Energy’s latest rate proposal Thursday and are lobbying state regulators to deny it.

The proposal would create a separate billing class for people who install solar panels on their homes. The change could effectively increase a typical solar user’s bill by as much as 50 percent.

Deborah Shaar / KMUW

A Maize High School teacher is working on a plan to use solar energy to help power the school.

Physics teacher Stan Bergkamp received approval from the USD 266 Board of Education to raise money for a rooftop array of 740 solar panels — a 240 kW system.

He says as soon as the system is up and running, the savings will be immediate. The panels are expected to save about $3,000 a month, or $36,000 a year, in electricity costs. The district currently pays about $30,000 a month for electricity at Maize High School.

Dave Dugdale, flickr Creative Commons

If you’ve got solar panels on your roof, Westar Energy wants to create a surcharge on your power bill.

The utility insists that if it doesn’t charge you extra, all of its other customers will get stuck with the tab of being ready with electricity when the sun lets you down.

Stephen Koranda

Supporters of solar energy and the electricity utility Westar Energy are sparring over a proposal that would increase costs for customers with solar panels. Kansas regulators held a hearing on the plan last night in Topeka.

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