Solar Power Rooftop Panel Debate

Solar power rooftop panels are great ways for homeowners to reduce their power bills while also putting energy back into the grid during peak times. While that’s a win for consumers, it’s a loss for utility companies as reducing the homeowner’s bill also reduces revenues generated from consumers.

Should these homes owe a minimum monthly amount to the electric grids they are connected to?

It’s an interesting debate playing out in several states throughout the country. Missouri ranks among them, and the state legislature and utility companies are facing resistance for decisions leading up to backing solar alternatives to energy.

Solar panels being installed on a home in 2011.

A bill introduced this year for Missouri state legislators to consider created a minimum amount due even if the customer generated enough electricity to offset their own usage. The bill caps a customer’s ability to generate electricity beyond what they need.

The move is applauded by KCP&L (Kansas City Power & Light) and Ameren, utility companies that provide electricity for homes in Missouri. In order to continue operation, the companies predicted significant price hikes on the remaining customers who do not produce electricity to offset revenue loss.

Low-profile solar power rooftop panels being used on a home in Wisconsin.

State senator T.J. Berry said in a recent interview that utility companies are seeking a law to prevent abuse of electricity generation. “What we have to decide is what is fair. They are afraid some of this language kills them.”

On the opposite side of the spectrum is the Alliance for Solar Choice, a consortium of the nation’s top rooftop solar companies. Their Co-Chair Bryan Miller contended the law was not to make a level playing field for anyone – except the utility companies.

Solar panels being used as an awning on a business.

“They want to end solar competition,” Miller said in a recent interview. “Solar costs go down every single year by double digits, and every single year, traditional utility costs go up.”

By eliminating the incentives for solar panel installation, the utility companies are effectively stifling their competition, Miller asserted. “The clock is on solar’s side, and we shouldn’t be changing the rules in the middle of the game,” he said.

While the bill in Missouri did not reach the floor for a vote this year, it’s only a matter of time before legislation – in Missouri and other states – does reach the governor’s desk for consideration.

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