Net metering bill clears House, returns to Senate

Published 8:07 pm Friday, February 15, 2019


News release

FRANKFORT — The House Friday amended and passed legislation that would change how power companies credit customers with solar panels who add power to the grid.

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Senate Bill 100, also known as the net metering bill, cleared the House on a vote of 71-24 after it was amended to clarify that the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) will determine when and how net metering rates are set. Additionally, the House changes would allow the solar industry to intervene in rate cases and allow leasing of solar electricity generating systems, among other provisions.

SB 100, sponsored by Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, was sent to the House after passing the Senate by a 23-12 vote on Wednesday.

Rep. Jim DuPlessis, R-Elizabethtown, who proposed the House changes said his amendment addresses “legitimate concerns” that utilities and small businesses have with SB 100.

“Can we protect the non-solar customers, the regular rate payers, those who can’t afford solar – can we protect those – (and) can we help the utilities with the infrastructure costs that they need without pulling the rug out from a fledgling, yet growing, solar industry. The answer is yes we can,” DuPlessis told the House.

The House did not change provisions in SB 100 that would provide dollar-value credits for solar or eligible energy sources fed into the power grid, a process known as “net metering.” Some other Senate provisions were also retained, including a 1-percent cap on the amount of power that utilities must accept from net metering customers.

Rep. Jim Gooch, R-Providence, who presented SB 100 on the House floor for a vote was opposed to the amendment which he said makes the bill “complicated.” Gooch said leasing of solar systems could be especially problematic.

“Some of these solar installers will come around to some older person or somebody (else) … and they will tell them ‘I can save you 30 percent on your utility bill,’” said Gooch. If the rooftop solar installation causes damage to the roof, Gooch said that damage may not be easily fixed.

Although he opposed the amendment, Gooch did vote in support of the bill.

Rep. Josie Raymond, D-Louisville, said she specifically opposes the 1-percent cap in the bill. She said the cap could remove incentives for customers to buy and install solar electricity generating systems.

“When we need one another to address a real, urgent, irreversible climate crisis, I encourage interdependence — not isolation — and that’s why I’m against this bill,” said Raymond, who voted against the bill.

Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, supported the bill as amended. Jenkins said she decided to support SB 100 after learning that those on both sides of the issue feel the bill is, she said, a “good step.”

“It’s not everything that many of us want, but you know what? It’s a whole lot better than it was this morning. So I will be voting yes to keep the conversation going,” she said.

SB 100 now returns to the Senate for its consideration of the House changes.