The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Business

July 23, 2013

KCP&L dropping solar installer after audit

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A St. Joseph company is no longer part of Kansas City Power & Light’s solar energy rebate program because the utility claims some solar systems the company installed didn’t provide the power that was promised.

The utility said Monday an audit found numerous systems installed by U.S. Solar were smaller than expected and the company overcharged the customers and collected more rebates than justified.

“They are not delivering on what they say they are going to do,” said Chuck Caisley, a spokesman for KCP&L.

KCP&L also said the Federal Bureau of Investigation had approached the utility about an investigation of U.S. Solar. The FBI refused to comment, The Kansas City Star reported.

The owner of U.S. Solar, Trevor Dryden, said the allegations are “100 percent incorrect.” He said the company reduced the number of panels in some systems but larger panels provided the capacity that was promised. Dryden also alleged his company was being targeted by competitors who want to receive more of the rebates.

Caisley said the utility will be more specific about the amount of overcharges later.

Pending rebate applications from U.S. Solar installations will be honored after a final inspection of the systems but no new applications would be accepted. KCP&L is asking the Missouri Public Service Commission to ensure those steps meet state rules governing the rebate program.

The rebate program provides $2 per watt of capacity. When combined with other incentives, it pays most of the solar system’s cost. But KCP&L earlier this month said it was capping the program to keep it from violating state rules that it can’t affect rates by more than 1 percent.

The Missouri Solar Energy Industries Association has asked state regulators to audit U.S. Solar and prevent any improper payments from being included in the caps. Susan Brown, an association board member and vice president of Brightergy, a Kansas City installer of solar energy systems, said the association expelled U.S. Solar from its organization in March for an ethics violation in dealing with a customer.

 

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