Solar panels

This photo shows solar panels at Fresh Start Village in Paducah. 

PADUCAH — A new policy on renewable energy could change how local organizations and individuals install solar panels. Paducah Power System is changing its net metering policy.

The utility company's director of finance, Doug Handley, says the old agreement meant customers' bills were reduced by the amount of energy they produce themselves. The new policy goes into effect Nov. 1. 

"The consumer, residence, business, will buy all of the energy that they need to consume on their premises from the utility," Handley says. "They will sell all of the energy they generate to the utility."  It means the new rate will be calculated through dollar amounts instead of the amount of energy produced.

Project Helios works to install solar panels on local nonprofit organizations. Last year, the group installed panels at Fresh Start Village. Bryant Hileman, founder of the project, says the new policy will make it impossible for Helios to install systems at other nonprofits. 

"What it does is it changes the amount of time it takes to pay back for that system, so instead of 15 to 17 years, it can take over 80 years with this new policy," Hileman says. "These systems are designed for 25 years, so you might as well light money on fire." 

Hileman is working to get a system installed at Family Service Society as soon as possible, so it can stay under the old policy. He says it will likely be the last solar system Project Helios installs for a local nonprofit.