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Some Kansas home owners with solar energy systems on their property are now subject to residential demand charges by Westar. In September of 2018 the KCC’s decision made Westar the only investor-owned utility in the nation to impose mandatory demand charges for residential solar owners. To help minimize the monetary impact on homeowners that create their own energy with solar or wind, we have a few suggestions:

  1. Time of Use Shifting. Install a battery system that can store extra energy from the sun instead of selling it to the utility. The energy can then be used after the sun goes down instead of pulling from the grid. The same battery system can also provide your home with backup power should you experience an outage due to weather or an unpredictable utility grid. Batteries are still somewhat costly, but we expect the prices to continue to fall.
  2. Timer Controls. Use timers on appliances to automatically control when and how long lights, appliances, and electronic devices can be used.  Timer controls can be configured to activate on a set schedule so that appliances do not turn on during the hours of 2:00-7:00. Be sure to adjust the timers (if they don’t automatically) to accommodate for Daylight Savings time. Some timer controls can automatically adjust throughout the year to account for shifting sunset and sunrise times. Westar’s demand charge for an entire month is determined by the highest 15 minute interval of usage during the hours of 2-7 p.m. Monday-Friday. Customers are charged $9/kW of demand in the summer (June – September) and $3/kW of demand in the winter (October – May). Appliances that typically have the most energy draw include but are not limited to: Air Conditioning, Toaster Ovens, Electric Stoves, Electric Hot Water Heaters, Hair Dryers, Irons, Electric Heaters, and Clothes Dryers.  More ideas for timer controls
  3. LifeStyle Changes. The clothes dryer is one of the biggest users of energy. Consider drying clothes on a clothes line.
  4. Tight Envelope. The building envelope of a house consists of its roof, sub floor, exterior doors, windows and of course the exterior walls. Proper insulation can create a tight envelope for your home.  A tight envelope restricts air or controls how it is admitted, therefor reducing the amount of times a heater or air conditioner turns on.
  5. LEDs. If you haven’t upgraded to LEDs by now, this is your first step to energy conservation.
  6. Kitchen Appliances. Use an Insta-pot instead of a Crock-pot. Here’s why.
  7. Smart Home. Energy Management systems automatically manage and maximize clean energy by balancing the energy you need with the energy you have. Imagine lowering your shades, raising the temperature a few degrees to save energy, or pre-cooling the home in the afternoon with abundant solar energy instead of at night during peak hours when energy is most expensive. Or using stored energy to power key nighttime loads in your home to reduce grid strain and your carbon footprint.

Some of the newest technologies may not be suitable for your budget, let us help you find the right solution for you. Please contact us with questions.

Good Energy Solutions thanks Vote Solar, The Clean Energy Business Council, The Climate and Energy Project, The Sierra Club, and the numerous solar advocates that wrote letters to the commission and spoke at the public hearings on behalf of the solar industry and Kansas residents that have installed solar. Good Energy Solutions is disappointed with the ruling as it currently makes it harder for individuals to obtain energy independence and it also affects the development of the renewable energy industry in Kansas.

However, we see the future of a collaborative energy system in the state of Kansas to support future high demands of electric transportation and inventions that have not yet even been imagined. Utility rate structure charges have been disputed and reversed in other states, like Nevada. Contact your legislative officials to advocate for the right for energy freedom and to support the renewable energy future in Kansas.