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Advocates Fear Westar's New Billing Plans Could Nix Solar Savings

Solar panels on a house roof (Image credit: commons.wikimedia.org)
Solar panels on a house roof (Image credit: commons.wikimedia.org)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Solar energy advocates have raised concerns about Westar Energy's request for new financial setups for Kansas households with solar panels. Mark Horst, a partner in Hutchinson-based King Solar, says the new plans could eliminate the cost savings of installing solar panels. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that as part of a $152 million rate case Westar filed in March, the utility requested two new ways of calculating bills. Westar spokeswoman Gina Penzig says the goal isn't to harm solar panel users, but to ensure they pay something toward the costs of operating the grid, since solar energy doesn't cover most homes' total energy needs. Horst says under either new plan, it would take longer for solar users to see savings from solar energy, lessening the incentive for using solar.

The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.