FRANKFORT -- The Kentucky Public Service Commission has begun taking public comments on implementing a recent law that will change the way that Kentucky electric utility customers receive credit for electricity they generate from solar panels and other renewable sources.

The Kentucky General Assembly earlier this year passed, and Gov. Matt Bevin signed into law, a bill that changes the way utilities will credit retail customers who generate electricity from renewable sources -- primarily solar panels.

Under the new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2020, net metered customers will receive dollar credits at a rate set by the PSC in rate proceedings for each utility, with the compensation amount for each billing period subtracted from the total bill for that period. The new law states that an electric utility is "entitled to implement rates to recover from its eligible (net metering customers) all costs necessary to serve" those customers, independent of the rate structure for all other customers.

The original net metering law provided credits at the full retail rate, using a bi-directional meter that reflected whether a customer was producing more or less electricity than was being used. The customer bill reflected the net usage.

Homes and businesses which began receiving net metering service under the prior law and rates will continue to do so for 25 years from the date at which net metering began. The 25-year period will not be affected if the property is sold.

In an order issued Tuesday, the PSC said it wants to gather information that would be useful in future rate cases that will determine net metering rates for electric utilities. The PSC will make no decisions on net metering rates in this proceeding.

The investor-owned electric utilities -- Duke Energy Kentucky, Kentucky Power Co., Kentucky Utilities Co., Louisville Gas & Electric Co. -- will have to file individually to adjust their net metering rates.

Kentucky's two generation and transmission cooperatives, Big Rivers Electric Corp. and East Kentucky Power Cooperative, may file on behalf of one or more of their distribution cooperatives or the distribution cooperatives may file individual applications.

Each utility's new net metering rate will be established based on its particular circumstances, considering both the evidence in each case and the record of the current proceeding, according to the PSC.

Written comments are due by Sept. 20. The PSC will conduct a hearing to receive comments in person at 9 a.m. EDT on Oct. 1 at their offices in Frankfort.

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