solar panels

Ryan Van Velzer

The future of renewable energy in Kentucky, and who is going to pay for it, is taking shape at a hearing before Kentucky utility regulators.  

Kentucky Power is asking the Public Service Commission this week to lower the rates utilities pay residential solar customers for power they produce. That’s the billing system known as net metering, which credits utility customers for the excess power they put on the grid. 

On Tuesday, The Public Service Commission heard public comments and expert witness testimony from utilities on the value of net-metering during a hearing held remotely at the regulator’s headquarters in Frankfort.

David Monniaux, Wikimedia Commons

A new partnership between Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Habitat for Humanity aims to lower utility bills for 10 low-income families across the state by gifting them shares in a community solar field in Shelby County.

LG&E’s solar share program is for ratepayers who want solar energy, but for whatever reason can’t install it on their own properties. The program lets them pay a fee for a share of a large solar field and get a credit on their utility bills for the solar energy that share generates.

 


The Future Of Kentucky Solar Takes Shape in 2020

Dec 20, 2019
Ryan Van Velzer

In January, Kentucky utility regulators will begin accepting rate cases under the revised Net Metering Act, shaping the future of solar in the Commonwealth.

In a final order issued Wednesday, The Kentucky Public Service Commission said it will hire an outside consultant to help evaluate rates for new net-metering customers based on each utility’s specific costs.

“We’re going to hire a consultant because there are issues of first impression here that the commission is going to need some technical assistance with,” said Andrew Melnykovych, PSC spokesman.

 


Ryan Van Velzer

Louisville’s largest solar project is now generating power for holiday shoppers.

Mall St. Matthews in Louisville unveiled more than 1,400 solar panels on its rooftops Wednesday. The project comes two years to the day after Brookfield Properties announced its first solar project on the Oxmoor Center.

Together, the two projects amount to the state’s largest commercial installation supplying enough solar energy to power 134 homes every year, said Steve Ricketts, Solar Energy Solutions general manager and project installer.


Gray Watson/Creative Commons

Kentucky solar advocates want state regulators to consider the benefits of residential solar, but they say that won’t happen under the latest version of a net metering bill under consideration in the state General Assembly.

Last week, the House of Representatives narrowly passed a revised version of House Bill 227, which would allow state regulators to set the rates for the solar power that customers feed back into the electricity grid.

Erica Peterson

Three lawmakers have been added to a committee that has been considering a controversial bill that would scale back how much households with solar panels are reimbursed for producing excess energy for the electrical grid.

The move might help extend the life of the legislation, which has had trouble passing out of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

Tom Fitzgerald, an environmental activist and attorney with the Kentucky Resources Council, called the move “highly unusual.”

Creative Commons

State lawmakers are once again considering a bill that would scale back how much homeowners with solar panels get reimbursed for putting energy back into the electrical grid, though the legislation has stalled for the time-being.

Electric utilities are required to give Kentucky households credits that can be used on future power bills for generating excess energy. Currently those credits are equal to retail price of energy, but under House Bill 277, the credits would be reduced to the wholesale price of energy.

Hemlock Semiconductor Group is permanently closing its idled polysilicon plant in Clarksville, citing global trade disputes that have led to an oversupply of the compound used in solar energy panels.

The company says 50 Clarksville-based employees will be offered to stay with the company, but will have to relocate.

The company's president, Denise Beachy, announced the decision to the The Leaf-Chronicle on Wednesday.

Construction on the on the plant located near the Kentucky line was begun in 2009, and the facility was close to complete when Hemlock announced in 2013 it would not begin construction because of the supply glut and disputes with China over tariffs.

Hemlock will now work with local officials to decide how to dismantle the facility and to determine which parts can be repurposed for other business uses.

Fort Knox is unveiling the largest solar panel array on a military installation east of the Mississippi River. The new additions will complement the large solar network already operating at the post.

A ceremony Wednesday morning at the Hardin County army post will debut the array, which will be larger than any other solar panel farm in the state of Kentucky.

The new system includes 10,000 photovoltaic panels, which convert sunlight into electricity. A Fort Knox spokesman says the post will be able to supplant a portion of its energy consumption with the solar panels at a cheaper rate than electricity provided by local power plants.

The new array was constructed at no cost to the government through a partnership with Nolin Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation.

At the conclusion of a 25-year contract, ownership of the array will be transferred to Ft. Knox, with all energy production available to the military post at no cost.