Solar panel users upset over energy bills

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More and more people are finding new ways to help power their home. Many people that use alternate energy sources are saying the cost that they’re still paying to electric companies is unfair.

The Senate Utilities Committee was packed with people whose houses run partially on solar or wind energy on Monday.

Last October, the Kansas Corporation Commission approved an extra demand charge for solar and wind customers. A newly proposed bill would remove that charge.

Clyde Schwanke lives in Topeka. His solar panels can provide more energy per year than he would use.

“The fact that I’m retired, I was hoping to stabilize my electric bill so that it didn’t continue to go up,” said Schwanke.

He has 24 solar panels. When it’s sunny, he can run his whole house, and then some. He gets credits for the extra energy he produces, and uses those when it’s cloudy or at night.

“When I’m generating more than I’m using the meter like runs backwards and puts it back into the grid. When the sun goes down and I need it then, it turns around and runs the other way,” Schwanke explained.

Schwanke said he was charged $18 last month because of the demand charge.

Westar officials aid it’s a way to make sure everyone is paying their fair share to be a part of the electric grid.

“Rather than coming home and turning on the TV, and starting the oven, and running the dryer, and the dishwasher, all at the same time, you might think about delaying those things until after 7,” said Westar Energy spokeswoman Gina Penzig.

If the bill does not become law, the demand charge would triple during the summer months.

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