Evergy reports progress of renewables programs

Green tariff programs from electric company Evergy have garnered interest from businesses and residential customers since the company’s merger last year.

Evergy, through its subsidiary companies Kansas City Power and Light company and Westar Energy, now covers about one-third of Missouri and two-thirds of Kansas, serving 1.6 million customers.

Drew Robinson, manager of renewables at Evergy, discussed the programs during the annual Advancing Renewables in the Midwest Conference at the University of Missouri on April 3. Shortly after the merger, Westar received regulatory approval for its Renewables Direct program, otherwise known as a green tariff.

“This program is 200 megawatts in size, and it’s been filled with 22 customers. It filled in six weeks,” Robinson said.

Under green tariff programs, customers can claim that a certain percentage of their energy consumption is from renewables. Participation in the programs does not mean that the customers will be the ones who consume the wind- or solar-generated power, because that energy will just flow to the grid used by all customers.

As its renewable use increases, Evergy aims to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. The company expects to expand its wind portfolio and shut down over 2,200 megawatts of fossil generation by the end of 2020 to reach its target of having 27 percent of renewables in its portfolio.

Robinson said customers that signed up for the Kansas wind program include municipalities, industrials, school districts and universities. The green tariff program available in Westar territory, a 20-year-fixed term, is only offered to businesses and large customers that meet a monthly energy consumption threshold.

For customers who have interest, the company would look at 12 months of their energy usage to find a subscription that appropriately offsets it, Robinson said.

Meanwhile, the solar subscription program in KCP&L territory, approved by Missouri regulators in 2018, will be available to all customers although it is still considered as a premium product, The Kansas City Star reported.

Robinson said the company estimates that a customer would pay an additional $5 to $15 a month on top of their standard bill, but that the premium is expected to decrease over time. To date, the company has recorded a list of 1,000 customers interested in participating in the solar subscription program.

James Owen, executive director of Renew Missouri, said early participation from businesses and interest from other customers is an indication that people understand how renewable energy works and are buying in.

“This is the commitment from the utility and this is the commitment from the business that this renewable energy is going to be produced, it’s going be used, and it’s just going to ultimately lead to less emissions in the air, and it’s going lead to cheaper utility prices,” he said.

Missouri Business Alert’s sustainability coverage is funded in part by the Mid-Missouri Solid Waste Management District.

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