Evergy Must Refund Unlawful Solar Surcharges
TOPEKA, KS — Climate + Energy Project, Sierra Club, and Vote Solar filed a limited Petition for Reconsideration of the Kansas Corporation Commission’s February 25, 2021 order, to give greater effect to the Commission’s intent and the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision rejecting discriminatory solar charges. The Commission’s February 25th order unanimously rejected Evergy’s proposed rate changes for residential solar customers, as well as the utility’s proposal to impose a minimum bill for all ratepayers, regardless of how much electricity they use.
That ruling was a victory for renewable energy in Kansas, but it failed to require Evergy to refund the unlawful surcharges that the utility extracted from residential solar customers beginning in 2018 and extending through at least March 2021, despite the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision in April 2020, finding them unlawful. It also failed to allow solar customers to utilize alternative rates available to other customers–like time of use or the EV charging rate–if they choose to do so. The reconsideration petition seeks to correct these remaining issues so solar customers are treated fairly as the law requires.
“The Kansas Corporation Commission’s ruling puts residential solar on equal footing moving forward, but does nothing to refund the ratepayers who had an unfair and unlawful fee on their energy bill for more than two years” said Ty Gorman, Kansas Campaign Representative with the Sierra Club. “These customers should be made whole, and it’s only fair that Evergy return the money that was taken unlawfully.”
“Kansas law is clear that rates are not final until all appeals are exhausted and any money collected while appeals are pending is subject to refund if the courts later reverse the rates. That’s what happened here. Solar customers are entitled to all the relief the Supreme Court awarded, not just some of it and not just starting next month. Evergy is not entitled to keep any of the money it collected under illegal rates,” said Rick Gilliam, Program Director at Vote Solar.
“Looking ahead, Kansas must consider the economic, environmental, and grid benefits of rooftop solar,” said Dorothy Barnett, Executive Director of Climate + Energy Project. “We can’t have those conversations, however, while Evergy retains the unlawful surcharges that the utility collected from early adopters of home solar over the past year. That money should be returned to ratepayers immediately.”