NorthWestern Energy proposes in its general electric rate case before the Public Service Commission a “demand charge” for residential rooftop solar owners connected to the grid. The rationale is that everyone must pay their fair share for use of the grid (based upon a 2017 test period), but the actual costs are disguised. The approximately 3,000 rooftop solar customers in NorthWestern Energy’s Montana service territory make up less than 1% of their customer base. And depending on the user, a rooftop solar customer could pay a monthly bill of $52 whereas a non-solar customer would pay an average of $35/month under this new proposal.
Further, this new rate structure could make it impossible to save money on energy bills by investing in solar. Rooftop solar customers could see a 33% reduction in their ability to save with solar with some customers potentially seeing an increase in their bills after installing solar.
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This demand charge disincentivizes the transition to carbon-free, renewable energy. Northwestern should be making this transition easier, not harder, for their customers and the solar industry. Their proposal does not take into account the impacts to the growing industry of rooftop solar, the number of local jobs we will lose, or our desire for energy independence and energy choice. Please contact the PSC and ask them to reject NWE’s proposal to impose a demand charge on rooftop solar customers.
Robert Rasmussen, Helena