What is net metering? Simply put, net metering is a billing system for those who generate their own electricity. It allows you to sell any solar electricity you generate but don’t use back to Westar for a specified rate. We track it on a monthly basis and any surplus energy production is applied as a credit to your next bill at the cost Westar would have paid to produce the energy ourselves.
Net metering plays an important role in calculating your return on investment (ROI) and payback period for your rooftop solar system so it’s very important to understand how it works and how it might change over time.
In 2014, the Kansas State Legislature recognized the need for changes in how this process works and changed Kansas law to allow for the excess energy provided back to the grid to be settled on a monthly basis, rather than the previous yearly basis. In October 2015, the KCC approved a new tariff for residential customers who generate their own electricity. This includes rooftop solar. It’s important to know that at some point in time, the price Westar credits for rooftop solar could change. Make sure you understand how a change in net metering could affect your payback for the investment.
Today, Kansas and other states are facing a dilemma, we want to see rooftop solar grow and to provide customers more options for their energy but at the same time we want to be fair to those customers who don’t have rooftop solar. Under net metering, Westar credits solar customers for the energy they produce and put back on the grid. We then pass those costs back to our other customers as part of the overall cost of energy. The more we credit our rooftop solar customers for their excess energy, the more costs it pushes back to our other customers. We need to find the right balance in what we credit rooftop solar customers that doesn’t hurt solar growth but doesn’t push more costs onto the rest of our customers. So there is a lot of discussion going on with the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC), solar groups and Westar on how to find the right balance.
Additional information to explore:
Is private solar right for me?
How does private solar work?
Additional solar resources