Thursday, May 23rd was PACK THE PSC DAY and 25 Montana citizens spoke before the Montana PSC. They gathered in Helena to protest a proposed rate change by NorthWestern Energy that would lower rates paid to their net-metering customers and impose a demand charge on those customers.
Northwestern Energy is pursuing a rate case before the PSC which is clearly designed to kill the growing rooftop solar movement. Three-Fifty Montana, Forward Montana and Northern Plains Resources Council co-sponsored this event to tell the PSC this just isn’t acceptable
Under the Northwestern proposal, most ratepayers would be charged 11.36 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity used. Under the current system, rooftop solar net metered customers pay the same rate as everyone else but get a credit back at the same rate, for energy they contribute to the grid. The proposal reduces the amount net metered customers pay and receive to just 6.56 cents per kilowatt hour but adds a draconian and obtuse $8.64 demand charge. That’s right. 8.64 DOLLARS. That’s 76 times the rate non-rooftop solar customers pay. This demand charge is applied to the heaviest hour of usage in each month. Do you know what you use on your peak hour every month? Neither do we and we don’t have any way to find out. This means there is no way to predict what these charges will be and no way to evaluate the economics behind installing rooftop solar. Or buying a house that already has it.