Northeast Montana News

Northeast Montana News

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Montana still pondering NorthWestern Energy's proposed rate hike for solar energy users

Regulation

By Rich Peters | Nov 21, 2019

Solar power

Students who traveled to Helena to tell the Montana Public Service Planning Commission about their concerns over a proposal that would make it more expensive for residents to use solar energy never got a chance to voice their opinions.

The commission meeting scheduled for October 15 was postponed because a majority of the five commissioners were not present.

NorthWestern Energy wants to charge a demand fee to any new residential customers who use solar energy to make up for the cost of using the company's power grid. Current solar customers only pay for approximately 65 percent of the costs associated with using the energy grid, NorthWestern’s website states. 

“This just feels like another way to take away the voice for renewable energy,” University of Missouri student Esther Lyon Delsordo told the Montana Kaimin. “It’s important for Montanans because if politics is not going to work to influence the energy movement here in Montana, then it’s going to have to be private people in their own homes and their own neighborhoods, organizing on their own and making the shift to renewables. And if that benefit isn’t there, it’s going to be hard to do that in the grassroots sort of way.”

The commission has until December 27 to decide whether to approve NorthWestern Energy's proposal. The topic is currently on the commission's agenda for November 25 and 26.

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