In Kentucky, a number of homeowners spent the time and money to outfit their homes to use solar power. Through careful installation of solar panels and wholesale solar inverters, they were able to lower their utility bills. In some cases they could even sell extra power back to the utility companies.
It seemed like a good deal for the homeowners. The utility companies bought power back at the same rates they charged consumers to use it, a process called net metering. Everything looked good for solar power to take hold in Kentucky.
Until lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 100.
Senate Bill 100 called for the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) to set the rates for power buyback, rather than using the current consumer rates. By the provisions of the bill, the PSC could easily set rates that were highly favorable to utility companies and not to homeowners who might want to use solar power.
Senate Bill 100 was signed into law by Governor Matt Bevin on March 26, 2019. The lead up to to bill’s passing included extensive debate and lobbying by Kentucky’s nascent solar power industry. A compromise bill was introduced in February of 2019, which would have been more beneficial to the solar industry, but ultimately the senate voted on and passed the original bill.
Solar Industry Response
In an article in Solar Magazine, industry experts point out that solar power has been one of the largest growth industries in recent years. They suggest that Kentucky’s influential coal industry may have something to do with the passage of the bill. At the time the bill passed in Kentucky, there were only about 1,000 solar panels installed in the state – not nearly enough to threaten the dominance of coal power.
The Kentucky Solar Industries Association called the bill a victory for monopolies in the state of Kentucky. They warned of the detrimental effects not only for homeowners, but also for all those employed by the solar industry in Kentucky.
Despite this setback in the state of Kentucky, solar remains a growth industry in the United States. As of 2018, over 242,000 people worked in the solar industry around the country. This is double the number of people who worked in solar just six years before, in 2012.
In 2018, the Solar Energy Industries Association estimated that solar power offset CO2 emission equivalent to planting about a billion trees.
While the solar industry in Kentucky may be recovering from a blow, still solar power is still in growth mode. Homeowners will still install solar panels and find the best wholesale solar inverters to power their homes for years to come.