Critics blast Westar Energy solar power plan

TOPEKA (KSNT) — Topeka residents voiced their concerns about a proposed rate hike for Westar Energy.

A meeting was held at Farley Elementary School in Topeka by the Kansas Corporation Commission which has the final say on the hike.

During an open house prior to the start of the meeting, protestors lined up outside the venue.

They were telling the KCC, “Don’t block the sun!”

They believe the fixed rates being requested by the utility aren’t fair to customers with solar panels or who are interested in going to solar power.

At the meeting Tuesday they handed the commission a petition, asking that solar energy be incentivized not penalized by rate increases.

“Westar is proposing some changes that would basically eliminate people going to solar,” said solar power owner Bill Wood. “They are going to raise the prices if you install a solar system and want to hook into their grid.”

“Everybody else is paying a little bit more to incentivize for you to have those solar panels,” Westar spokesperson Gina Penzig told KSNT News. “We need to fix that.”

The Westar hike would be the second given by the company this year. Earlier, it got an environmental “pass along” which allows it to recover some costs associated with environmental controls.

The utility maintains that for the average residential customer, the hike their are requesting would amount to $9-13 more each month.

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