SB 078 - Attack on Net Metering Rates

Sen. Keith Regier, (R-Kalispell), SD 3

Contact House Energy Committee: Don't Take Solar Backward

Dear Representative,

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SB 78 attacks solar energy development in Montana by mandating changes to rules that are currently set by the experts at the Public Service Commission (PSC), including:

  • Mandating net metering credits be valued at avoided cost. “Avoided cost” is a specific ratemaking method that was designed for use with large, centralized power plants that remain in one location on the grid. In contrast, distributed energy resources like net metered rooftop solar systems are distributed in thousands of places around the grid. In particular, there is value created for the grid – and all ratepayers – by this locational distribution that “avoided cost” does not capture, making it an inappropriate method for calculating net metering rates.
  • Mandating a new rate class for net metering utility customers. Creating a new rate class is uncommon and determining whether one should be created is a highly technical decision. This decision is best left to experts at the Public Service Commission.

This bill also discriminates against net metering customers by double charging them for utility infrastructure. The bill would add a new, separate fee on net metering customers aimed at covering utility infrastructure costs, but these customers already pay for this cost in the rates paid for energy purchased from the utility. Net metering customers would be paying twice for infrastructure.

Use the tool on the right to tell the House energy committee to reject this bad bill, as well as SB 7, another bad net metering bill.

The message reads:

Dear Representative,

I am contacting you to request you oppose SB 7 and SB 78, two bills that would take solar energy backward in Montana.

Both bills would greatly limit the Public Service Commission’s ability to use their expertise and set net metering rates in a just, reasonable, and non-discriminatory manner.

SB 7 discriminates against net metering customers while SB 78 mandates two major restrictions on the PSC’s rate setting abilities. First, it mandates creation of a separate rate class for net metered customers. Second, it mandates the use of “avoided cost” to set net metering rates. Both mandates are significant interference in the PSC’s rate making abilities.

If HB 219 and its net metering study provision is believed to be the way forward, both of these Senate bills are inappropriate because they tie the PSC’s hands from doing their job.

Thank you,

MEIC's Position: Oppose | Current bill status: Hearing Occurred in House Energy, Technology, & Federal Relations on March 8th. | Official legislative site

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