New bill could make it more expensive to use solar power - KMOV.com

New bill could make it more expensive to use solar power

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A bill making its way through the Missouri legislature could make it more expensive to go green when it comes to electricity. (Credit: KMOV) A bill making its way through the Missouri legislature could make it more expensive to go green when it comes to electricity. (Credit: KMOV)

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – A bill making its way through the Missouri legislature could make it more expensive to go green when it comes to electricity.

A bill filed by Rep. Travis Fitzwater (R-Fulton) would allow energy companies to charge a fee for solar panel users.

Joan Bray, a University City resident, has had her solar panels for about six years. They sit in her backyard where they get full sunlight, helping cut back on their electric bill.

“It’s fun to watch the sunny days and see how much were getting,” said Bray, who estimates they receive about 15-20 percent of their energy from the sun.

Bray is planning to add more panels to her garage, but now is worried that the new bill would make it more expensive.

“The fact that this would put an additional financial lug on people is outrageous,” said Bray.

In an emailed statement, Rep. Fitzwater said the current laws “unfairly subsidize solar user's infrastructure costs at the expense of all ratepayers, especially low-income ratepayers. The way that happens is that costs to provide power to all homes in Missouri is built into the price of energy consumed in the state. If you don't consume power, but yet sell it back to the grid, you receive a subsidized cost of infrastructure. All other ratepayers are then on the hook for those costs. This provides an unfairness in the market.”

But Bray argues with that point, saying they pay the base fee, plus pay for any energy they consumed.

“If we put energy into the grid we are helping supply other people, we’re giving to the supply,” she explained.

Ameren Electric referred News4 to the Missouri Energy Development Association.

President Trey Davis said in an email, “a utility needs the ability to fully recover the costs associated with the required grid infrastructure.  This will ensure that all customers have safe and reliable electricity and that electric rates are fair and affordable for all customers."

Mark Walter is with Missouri Sun Solar and says similar bills passed in other states have been detrimental to the solar industry, saying the bill would destroy the benefits of having solar panels.

There is not a set amount it would cost solar panel users if it passes, instead, it would depend on the fees already leveraged by the electric companies.

"It's like they're taxing the sun and I'm not okay with that," said Bray.

The bill passed the House and will now move on to the Senate.

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